Will My Parenting Plan Cover Religion?


When starting the divorce process, many parents will immediately consider the effect such measures will have on their common children and more specifically their child rearing practices and time sharing. Florida’s public policy places a strong presumption on sharing parental responsibilities, continued frequent contact between parent and child and finally determining all matters under the lens of the “best interest of the child” standard. What is considered the best interest of the child is fluid and broad allowing the court to consider many different factors, including parental choice. Therefore, the court has discretion when developing a parenting plan to take into account the desires of the parents, including religious ones.  Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney can help to craft a plan to include appropriate religious practices and obligations that you, as a parent, deem important.

Florida Statute 61.13 requires parenting plans to “describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child.” These responsibilities include but are not limited to time sharing schedules, health care, schooling practices, extracurricular activities, communication with the child and may also include religious practices. If you and your spouse agree on religious practices and are able to determine proper religious involvement with your child, a settlement may be reached. However, if an agreement cannot be determined to where both parties are satisfied, you can raise your religious concerns before the court to consider. However, if the court finds one topic, like religion, to be more important to one parent than the other, Florida statute allows the court to “consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare.” Meaning, the aspect of religion can be granted the sole discretion of one parent if the court deems appropriate. 

All decisions made by the court in relation to child custody are judged under the scope of what is considered in the best interest of the child. In a broad sense, this standard takes into account the cooperation of parents with each other, the parents facilitating a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, the environment of the home, the health and safety of the child, medical, emotional and psychological needs of the child and stability within the home.  Hence, when considering religious practices in a parenting plan the courts will consider the prior involvement of the child in the religion, the religion itself and its possible treatment of children, regularity of religious service attendance, religious school programs, religious extracurricular activities, religious milestones, and even how active the child will be in the religious community. The court strives to minimize the disruption of the lives of the children as much as possible, easing the transition from life pre and post-divorce. Therefore, this may include maintaining current school enrollment, avoiding disruptions to established routines, and if the child is used to regular church attendance, the court will try to maintain the familiar schedule. Your Orlando Child Custody Attorney will draft a parenting plan that provides consistency for the child while taking into consideration any new circumstances created by the divorce.

Overall, the court is given broad discretion to consider your personal religious practices in your parenting plan regarding your child. If important to you and your family, make your Orlando Divorce Attorney aware, so that you may draft together a parenting plan that considers your religious activities, schooling or holidays with your children. We understand religion can saturate many parts of your everyday life, continuing such practices with your child after your divorce are important, and we will work with you to achieve those goals.

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