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Parents With Different Religions

Family and Children

In the case of Re N (a child) [2012], The Family Division made an order regarding a child’s religious upbringing.  The Anglican father sought to restrict the extent that the mother, a Jehovah’s Witness, involved the child in her religion.

The child was four years old and the parents lived apart after separating.  The father was concerned about the impact of the mother’s religious beliefs on the child.  Being a Jehovah’s Witness the mother did not celebrate birthdays or Christmas.  She also did not want the child attending birthday parties or taking part in school nativity plays.  The child regularly visited Kingdom Hall with the mother and an Anglican church with the father.

Both parents agreed that there should be a shared residence order.

The court ruled that neither parent had a predominant right to choose a child’s religious upbringing.  As both religions were socially acceptable the child has the right to learn and experience both.  Only if there was an impact on the child’s welfare would the court intervene in their religious activities.  The child’s welfare was the court’s primary consideration.

In this case there was no reason why the child should stop going to Kingdom Hall or to the Anglican Church.  However, it was in the child’s best interests to restrict the parent’s right to instruct or give lessons in their religious beliefs.  An order would therefore be made regarding the child’s religious upbringing.

It is not a requirement that an order for shared residency results in an equal division of time between each party.  However in this case it was in the child’s best interests to have the time split as equally as possible to guard against one of the parents religious ideals being dominant.

If you would like advice regarding children matters please contact our Family Law Department for a free initial interview on Eastbourne 01323 727321 or Hailsham 01323 841481.

Nicholas Dennis
Nicholas Dennis
Alexandra Funnell
Alexandra Funnell
Guy Brown
Guy Brown
Carolyn Richards
Carolyn Richards