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Child Custody and Religion

Attorneys Assisting Clients in Dallas and Surrounding Areas

In the United States, people generally have the right to practice any religion they choose and to raise their children in their faith. While some people form relationships with individuals who embrace the same religious beliefs, others do not, and if they have children, they will have to determine what religion the child will adopt. When the parents of a child share custody, though, they may not agree on what religion their children should observe. As such, the right to determine a child’s religious practices becomes a point of contention. If you need assistance with a child custody and religion matter, it is in your best interest to consult a lawyer to assess your options. The capable Dallas child custody attorneys of McClure Law Group can advise you of your rights, and if you engage our services, we will fight zealously to help you seek the outcome you desire.

Texas Law Regarding Child Custody and Religion

The Texas Family Code encourages parents to continue to share the rights and duties of raising a child after a separation or divorce. In some instances, parents are able to come to an agreement regarding a child’s religious upbringing. In such cases, they can incorporate the terms of their agreement into a parenting plan which they will then submit to the court for approval. Co-parents do not always agree as to how the rights should be exercised, though, and it becomes necessary to ask a court to intervene and make custody determinations.

In Texas, the courts’ driving concern in any custody matter is what is in the best interest of the child involved. The courts will consider numerous factors to determine what is in a child’s best interest, including the physical and mental health of both parents and the child, the child’s relationship with each parent, whether the child has special needs, and which parent historically acted as the primary caretaker for the child.

In most instances, a court will find that it benefits a child for both parents to have conservatorship rights, which is the term Texas uses for legal custody. A parent who is appointed as the conservator of a child has the right to direct the child’s religious training unless the court issues an order limiting that right. Usually, this right manifests during a parent's period of possession. In other words, the parent who is entitled to possession at a given time generally will be the parent who has the exclusive right, at that time, to direct the child's moral and religious upbringing. For example, that parent will decide whether the child attends worship services on a particular day when the parent has the child in his or her possession. Thus, if one parent has sole custody, he or she will likely get to choose what religion the child observes. The court may assign other parental duties to a parent who is not appointed a conservator of a child.

Generally, a court will only limit a parent’s right to manage a child’s religious education if it determines that the parent’s religious practices are harmful to the child. Typically, a court will only deem religious training to be unsuitable in cases in which it causes the child to suffer actual physical or emotional harm. For example, exposure to multiple religions is not typically harmful, and neither are strict religious rituals or traditions. Threats of abuse and corporal punishment, however, will likely be considered harmful.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Lawyer in Dallas

Religion is an important aspect of many people’s lives, and the right to choose what religion a child practices is a critical issue in many custody disputes. If you wish to define your rights with regard to child custody and religion or were recently served with legal papers instituting a divorce and custody case, it is advisable to speak to an attorney about your options. At McClure Law Group, our knowledgeable lawyers understand the magnitude of being able to direct a child’s religious upbringing, and if you hire us, we will present compelling arguments and evidence to help you pursue a favorable result. Our office is located in Dallas, and we are available to meet clients for consultations at our Collin County office in Plano. We regularly assist people in custody matters in Dallas, Frisco, McKinney, Irving, Richardson, Rockwall, Fort Worth, and Garland. We also aid people in family law matters in cities in Dallas, Rockwall, Tarrant, Denton, Collin, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us via our form online or by calling 214.692.8200 to set up a meeting.

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"Kelly McClure has been representing me for the past several years and has been an amazing advocate, confidant and sounding board. She is always available by phone, even when she is on vacation. She has answered my questions on weekends and always given me an honest opinion. I highly recommend this group to anyone." Heather Bell
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