Religion is an extremely sensitive topic, and to some people, their religion is close to their heart. When parents divorce with children, the decision of which parent is able to decide the child’s religion can be a very touchy–and often divisive and contentious–topic. If you are getting divorced in Illinois or have recently divorced, here is a look into what you need to know about which parent will be able to make decisions regarding religious upbringing.
Allocating Decision-Making Responsibilities in Illinois Divorce
Choosing a child’s religion falls into the category of “significant decision-making responsibilities.” This is not the same as having physical custody of a child; parents may share physical custody and decision-making responsibilities, or share physical custody and but only one parent has decision-making responsibilities. Decision-making responsibilities include the power to make decisions about a number of aspects of a child’s life, including:
- Religion; and
- Extracurricular activities.
Who Gets Decision-Making Power in a Divorce?
In an ideal situation, parents will agree about how decisions regarding a child will be made and will outline in their parenting plan the type of education the child will receive, the religion in which they will be raised, and how any disputes or disagreements will be handled. In the event that parents are not able to agree about significant decision-making responsibilities, then, per ILCS 5/602.5, the court will allocate decision-making responsibilities to one or both parents according to the child’s best interests.
The law also provides that as it pertains to a child’s religion:
- The court will allocate decision-making power in accordance with parents’ wishes/agreement formed between parents;
- If no agreement exists, the court will consider parents’ past conduct and the child’s religious upbringing thus far; and
- The court will not issue an order in regards to a child’s religious upbringing if there is no agreement between parents or the court does not find it appropriate to do so.
Remember, a court will consider a child’s best interests when allocating decision-making responsibilities. In order to be awarded the power to make a decision about your child’s religious upbringing if you and your (ex-)spouse are in disagreement about this, you will need to prove to the court that it is within your child’s best interest for you to be in charge of your child’s religious upbringing.
The court determines a child’s best interests by weighing a number of factors such as the wishes of the child, the mental health of all parties, the abilities of the parents to cooperate with one another, the wishes of the parents, the child’s needs, and more.
Call Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. Today to Learn More
You may have very strong feelings about the religion in which your child is raised and fears about not being able to be responsible for his or her religious education and upbringing. To learn more about significant decision-making responsibilities during a divorce, please contact our Naperville family law attorneys at the offices of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. today. You can contact us online or by phone to schedule your consultation.