Separation can be made even more difficult if you and your ex-partner are from different faiths, and it can be confusing trying to understand what it means for your children after you separate.
There are more than 4,000 religions Australians may belong to, so this is not an uncommon issue.
You and your ex-partner may both want your children to follow your individual religions, which can cause conflict that can have a negative impact on your family, particularly the children who may experience confusion as to which religion they should follow.
This is a matter that the Family Court has struggled to settle in the past, however there are a number of factors considered when attempting to solve such cases.
- The court will not be biased towards any particular religion when considering parental arrangements for the children.
- The court will encourage a middle ground approach that allows both parents to educate their children on their individual religions, but the court will also have a hand in the final decision of which religion will be chosen if it is not in the child’s best interests to follow both parents’ faiths.
- The court will then consider which of the two religions the child should learn and which should be discarded.
- The court does not weigh up which religion has the higher value. Instead, they view religion as a lifestyle choice and consider which religion would facilitate a better lifestyle for the child. Whichever religion appears to be a better fit for the child’s best interests will be taken into account.
- The court will also assess the extent to which each parent will attempt to educate their child on their chosen religion even if the decision has been made for the child to follow the other religion. If the decision has been made for the child to follow your ex-partner’s religion, it would not be in the child’s best interests for you to continue educating them on your own religion.
- The court will not interfere with the parents’ right to continue following their chosen religion after the decision for the child is made.
- The court also notes that some religions are exclusive. If your ex-partner’s religion was decided for you child, and your child is feeling excluded from you, the Family Court may order the child to be removed from your ex-partner’s care and thereby removed from your ex-partner’s religion.
- If your child has already become attached to your religion, the court is unlikely to order that they switch to your ex-partner’s faith, as this drastic change would not be considered in the best interest of the child.
- It is important to note however that once a child grows into an adult, they are free to decide for themselves which religion they wish to follow.
If you are struggling to decide what is best for your child, No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you consider the best possible outcome of your situation.