Child Custody and Religion
Under Florida law, people have the right to practice whatever religion they choose and to rear their children in their faith. Not all people in relationships share the same faith, though, and if an interfaith couple has children, they must determine what religion, if any, their children will observe. When parents from different religious backgrounds share custody of a child, unfortunately, the issue of the child’s religious upbringing often becomes a point of contention. If you have questions regarding child custody and religion, it is advisable to contact a lawyer to discuss your rights. Miami attorney Sandy T. Fox is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Marital & Family Law, with ample experience navigating complex custody issues, and if you engage his services, he will fight to help you pursue a just result.Florida Law Regarding Child Custody and Religion
In Florida, child custody is comprised of time-sharing, commonly known as physical custody, and parental responsibility, or legal custody. Pursuant to Florida Statutes 61.13, in any child custody case filed in Florida, the court’s primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest. The courts will evaluate several factors in determining what custody arrangement will be best for a child, including the physical and mental health of both the child and the parents, each parent’s ability to care for the child, and the child’s needs and age. The courts will also assess the child’s ties to their school or community, evaluate which parent traditionally acted as the primary caretaker for the child, and assess the need to create a stable environment for the child. Additionally, the courts will consider which parent is more likely to place the child’s needs above their own and the child’s preference. In most instances, the courts will issue a custody order stating that both parents share parental responsibility for a child, except in cases where the courts find that doing so would be detrimental to the child.
The Florida Statutes defining custody rights do not reference religion, and generally, the courts refrain from interfering with or modifying a parent’s right to instill their religious beliefs in their children. In some cases, this means that both parents will impart their religious values and traditions to a child. If the court finds, however, that a parent’s religious beliefs or practices present a risk of harm to the child, it will likely restrict the parent’s rights with regard to freedom of religion. The potential harm typically must be substantial or actual before it will be considered grounds for impacting a parent’s custody rights, though. For example, practices that cause physical or emotional injuries, like threats of abuse, corporal punishment, and withholding necessary medical care, may be considered harmful.
In some custody cases, the child may have a say in their religious upbringing and, to a certain degree, their parents’ custody rights. If the court finds that a child possesses adequate understanding, intelligence, and experience to state their preference with regard to religion, they may honor the child’s choice, and to the extent it impacts their willingness to spend time with a parent that embraces religious practices they do not agree with, may affect the parent’s right to physical custody of the child.Talk to a Dedicated Miami Child Custody Attorney
Religion is a key component part of many people’s lives, and people who hold strong religious beliefs often want to raise their children in their faith. If you wish to define your rights with regard to child custody and religion, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney about your options. The dedicated Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are mindful of the importance of protecting a parent’s right to choose their child’s religion, and if we represent you, we will craft persuasive arguments on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in custody disputes in Miami. You can contact us to set up a confidential and free consultation by using our online form or calling us at 800.596.0579.