Sometimes, parents’ religious practices are a point of conflict for a family. When one parent holds certain beliefs that the other parent does not hold, who makes the decisions about how to raise the child? What happens when one parent disagrees with the religious teachings the other parent introduces—or fails to introduce?
Managing Conservatorship: The Right to Make Important Decisions About Your Child’s Life
Before understanding child custody and religion in Texas, it’s important to understand some basic legal terms. In Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship.” There are two types, including managing conservatorship and possessory conservatorship.
Managing conservators have the right to make important decisions in the child’s life—like decisions about religious upbringing—in addition to the right to spend time with the child. Possessory conservators only have the right to spend time with the child.
Texas courts may say that both parents are managing conservators in their child’s life. If so, the conservatorship is “joint.” The court may also say that only one parent is a managing conservator. If so, the conservatorship is “sole.”
If you are the sole managing conservator for your child, you alone will have the right to make decisions about their religious upbringing. If you and your ex are joint managing conservators, the court expects you to work together to make those decisions.
When Divorced Parents Disagree About a Child’s Religion
When two parents disagree about how to parent their child after a divorce, Texas courts usually intervene to make the determination. Judges consider the best interests of the child using a series of factors outlined in the Texas Family Code when making decisions about child custody.
While the court considers the child’s best interests, it also weighs the religious rights of the individuals involved under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Under the First Amendment, every person has the right to practice the religion of their choice.
Generally, courts prefer that parents come to an agreement themselves when a child’s religious upbringing is at issue. However, they often intervene when religious practices get in the way of school or put the child in danger. For example, when a parent’s deep religious beliefs stop them from seeking necessary medical care for the child.
When a Parent’s Religious Beliefs Put the Child in Danger
When a parent’s religious beliefs put a child in danger, it is important to get legal help as soon as possible. Reach out to the lawyers at Schneider Law Firm, P.C. We have extensive experience representing parents in Arlington and the surrounding areas in a wide range of urgent child custody matters. Call 817-799-7125 or send us a message to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers.