McCown v. McCown

Religion in both marriage and divorce is often a very delicate issue that can strain family relations and put family members at odds with each other.  The strain can be even greater when the parents are each of a different religion.   An interesting article from today’s Chicago Tribune by Manya A. Brachear called Religion Used as Weapon in Divorce focuses on the issue of a child’s religious upbringing post-divorce in light of increased interfaith marriages.  Notable figures cited in the article include a percentage increase of interfaith marriages in the Jewish community from 17% to 47% from 1970 to 2000, and that interfaith households are 3 times more likely to end in divorce as those where both parents share the same faith. 

In New Jersey, the primary caretaker of the child (the Parent of Primary Residence – defined as providing a residence for a child for more than 50% of overnights annually or, if sharing is equal, providing the residence for the child while the child is attending school) has the right to determine the child’s religious upbringing and education.  The rationale is to allow the primary caretaker to decide the issue should there be a disagreement because that parent might know the child better than the other based on greater day-to-day exposure with the child.  By contrast, the other parent (the Parent of Alternate Residence) may only choose to expose, but not educate the child in another religion.  What does expose mean as compared to educate?  Exposure generally includes taking a child to religious services during the non-primary caretaker’s parenting time, but not enrolling him or her in religious training or classes. Continue Reading Religious Upbringing After Divorce – Which Parent Decides?