For many parents, spending holidays with their children is more than just celebrating culture and togetherness; there is a religious element that makes the holidays feel that much more important. What’s more, divorcing parents who are religious and want to spend time with their families and children during the holidays may find reaching a custody or parenting time agreement more challenging. Here’s a look into how parenting time during religious holidays is often decided in Illinois.

Reaching a Determination without the Court

The best thing parents can do when facing any custody determination decisions, including one involving shared time during religious holidays, is to work together to reach an agreement everyone can live with. Ideally, parents will be able to sit down together and determine with whom a child will spend each holiday. If one parent is more religious than the other, hopefully the parties can take this into consideration. If parents need assistance in reaching an agreement, working with a family counselor, professional mediator, or another third party can prove helpful.

When the Courts Get Involved

In the event parents are unable to reach an agreement about shared time with a child during religious holidays, the court will get involved. When a court makes a determination, they will need to consider both parenting time and religious upbringing.

In making a decision about parenting time, the court must consider the best interests of the child. When doing so is within the child’s best interests, the court prefers both parents share parenting time. As such, parents may be ordered to split holidays with the child in a manner that is equitable.

The court may also consider the child’s religious upbringing, especially if an issue of religious holidays is raised, or/and if parents are different religions. As found in Section 750 ILCS 5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, the court does not make a determination about a child’s religious upbringing. So long as no actual harm will befall a child as a result of being raised a certain religion or attending religious ceremonies, the court will not intervene. This means, if you do not want your child going to a certain religious ceremony with your (ex-) spouse, you will likely only be able to get a court order prohibiting this if your child’s attendance would cause them actual harm. If you want to raise your child with a certain religious influence, you maintain the right to do so.

Consult with a Skilled Family Law Attorney

It can be difficult to reach an agreement regarding child custody and visitation time with your spouse, especially if religion is a driving force behind the specific dates you each want to have with your child.

By meeting with a skilled family law attorney, you can gain more insight into the law and your options for negotiating an arrangement that works for everyone. For a consultation with our family law attorneys at the office of Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C., please call us directly or send us a message. Our lawyers serve clients in Naperville and surrounding areas of the state and are ready to review your case today.