Child custody is already a difficult and tricky business – while partners, judges, and mediators struggle to settle visitation rights, child payments, and drop-off schedules, everyone involved tries their hardest to do what is best for the children.

However, a new modern problem has added yet another facet to the already complicated business of raising children after a divorce: if you are ending an interfaith marriage, what religion will your children be raised with? Unfortunately, this new twist is affecting more and more families in Washington State as interfaith marriages become more common.

The latest high-profile case in which religion has taken center stage during a child custody dispute involves a Jewish woman and a Catholic man who are both fighting to raise their son with their own religious views in the wake of their divorce. While the mother in this case wants her son to wear a yamaka, eat kosher, and go to temple once a week, the father has baptized the son and is petitioning to bring him to mass each Sunday while the boy is in his care.

Mediation experts say that the pull parents feel to keep their child following their religious beliefs can be tied both to feelings of losing the child and to pressure applied by other family members. In all cases, they say, the children’s best interests should be put before all else. The best solution in most instances? A Washington mediation lawyer who can meet with both parents, religious members close to each parent, and an open mind. Experts add, though, that just as any child custody agreement, any agreement regarding religious practices is bound to change as the child ages.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington