Judge Rules in Interstate Custody Dispute

Alexander Nirenstein of the Arizona Divorce & Family Law Blog reports on an Illinois judge’s ruling that a man may take his 3-year-old daughter to Mass even though her mother is raising her Jewish.

The article goes on to say: “Ilinois Judge Renee Goldfarb said this week that Joseph Reyes may take his daughter to “church services during his visitation time if he so chooses” and that he have visitation rights every Christmas and Easter. Likewise, the order stipulated that Rebecca Reyes always have their daughter on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover.

“Goldfarb refused to bar Reyes from taking his daughter to church as long as no evidence exists that it would harm the child. Although Rebecca Reyes said that contrary religious teachings could confuse the preschooler, Goldfarb avoided doctrinal questions, saying it was not the court’s place “to focus on or attempt to interpret or judge official religious doctrines.”

If the parties had persued a collaborative divorce, they could have enlisted the assistance of a child specialist to advise them on the best approach to handling the child’s religious upbringing. Courts will always throw up their hands when asked to address conflicting interests regarding the exposure of children to religious influences. Collaborative law offers parents the opportunity to view these issues in a neutral and non-adversarial atmosphere, focusing on the best interest of the children of the marriage.