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The role of religion in co-parenting

16057952_s.jpgAs many divorced parents in Illinois already know, issues related to child custody and visitation can be contentious enough. However, when parents observe two different religions, coming to some sort of an agreement on how to raise the children can end up being the hardest roads to navigate. 

Take for example if the father is an orthodox Jew and the mother is Catholic. For the child, this could mean keeping kosher at dad's house, but eating cheeseburgers at mom's house. 

This is also just one small example. Depending on the religious affiliations, there could be different lifestyles, clothing and requirements from house-to-house. 

In situations where one parent is adamant that a child is raised a certain way, these differences could naturally lead to a good deal of tension between the mother and father. The different expectations between dad's house and mom's house could also be quite confusing, stressful and frustrating for a child who is just trying to make both of their parents happy. 

When it comes to religious upbringing, issues can also arise around holiday visitation schedules, especially when there is overlap between holidays.

According to Tara Foss, a therapist, when it comes to religious holidays, parents should try and split these as best as possible. If each parent adheres to a different religion, this means the children should be able to spend time with both parents, keeping in mind supervision needs. For example, if a holiday means a good deal of prayer and study time for the parent, this may mean the parent may not be as available to the child. This is something that should be discussed when creating a visitation schedule.

Additionally, when creating a visitation schedule, if one parent is requesting more religious holiday time, maybe that parent could be more understanding when it comes to national holidays and allowing the other parent to have those. 

In the end, when it comes to religious upbringing and visitation schedules, an attorney with experience handling child custody and visitation cases can step in. This attorney can help to make sure a parent's rights are being protected and that one parent is not automatically having all of the say in how things will go. Rather, the best interests of the child are kept in mind.

Source: Huffington Post, "Co-Parenting When Religious Considerations Are Significant," Tara Foss, July 9, 2013

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