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Raising Children After Texas Divorce: Who Makes Choices on Religion?

Many children throughout Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park and San Marcos live in homes with parents who are divorced, separated or who have never been married. It is becoming increasingly common for children to be raised by two parents who live independently rather than for a child to be raised within a nuclear family unit.cross-1445854-m

When kids live in separate homes, it raises many complicated questions. One issue, of course, is how parenting time is shared. Another issue is who gets to make decisions about what the kids learn and what religious upbringing they receive. A family law attorney can help parents to argue for the right to make these decisions about their child's life.

Controversy Arises Over Religion in Divorce Case

According to Fox 13, the issue of religious training for kids has become a contentious issue for one divorcing couple.

The court has already addressed the issue of child custody in the case, giving sole custody to the father and supervised visitation to the mother. She is seeking to change this to have more access to her kids, but this dispute over visitation is only one aspect of the controversy surrounding what happens to the kids after divorce.

The other pressing issue is that the mother has been ordered by the court not to discuss her religion with her children. She is divorcing from her husband, in part, because of a divergence in their views on religious faith. While the husband is a Mormon who is a member of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she is considering converting to fundamentalist Mormonism. This belief system permits the practice of polygamy.

The kids, who live with their father, currently attend the traditional LDS church. In a temporary court order in late October, their mother was forbidden from discussing her polygamous church with her children. She challenged the order as a violation of her First Amendment rights, both to free speech and to free exercise of religion.

In response to the challenge, the judge narrowed his order. The initial order forbid her from discussing anything religious or political until such time as she decided to join a different church group. The judge acknowledged that this blanket ban was too broad and modified it to try to make clear that he did not care about her specific religion. He indicated that the ban on discussing religion was not because of what the sect believed but instead because her conduct was rising to the level of emotional abuse by creating chaos for the kids.

A similar issue related to teaching a child about a controversial religion arose in 2006. In that case, the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania ruled that it was permissible for a man to teach his 13-year-old daughter about polygamy despite what his former wife said about the issue.

Taking cases like this to court is complicated, but may be necessary if you believe you are being deprived of the right to share your religion or if you are concerned about what religious information is being disseminated to your children.

Contact Bertolino LLP at 800-210-0126 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX divorce lawyer today. Serving Austin and surrounding suburbs including Round RockCedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.

Attorney Tony R. Bertolino is the Managing Partner with Bertolino LLP. Our Law Firm has been able to help people across the state of Texas through our offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. If you need an experienced lawyer to represent you, contact Bertolino LLP today.

Super Lawyers Rising Star American Bar Association Defending Liberty Pursuing Justice State Bar of Texas Pro Bono College Super Lawyers New York State Bar Association Houston Bar Association Austin Bar Association American Center for Law and Justice 10.0Tony Ray Bertolino

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