When you were married, you made a sacred vow to your spouse. Religion guides how we make decisions for our lives. These beliefs are often adopted into our child’s lifestyle as he or she grows into adulthood. Often the paternal roles dictated by religion can conflict with the legal role of a primary caretaker in a post-divorce custody agreement.

A 2014 Pew Research survey found 39 percent of American couples marry a person outside of their religion or denomination. Interfaith marriages are an indication that society as a whole is more open minded, but interfaith couples report higher rates of marital dissatisfaction, which leads to more divorces.

If you and your spouse differ in your religious beliefs, who will be the primary influence of faith after a divorce? Is this something that can be arranged in a custody agreement or are the children allowed to choose?

Let’s examine how religious beliefs can be arranged for a family following divorce.

Primary caretaker

One role that is sorted out as part of a divorce and subsequent custody agreement is the role of the primary caretaker. This parent handles the day-to-day responsibilities of raising the child including hygiene, meal planning, and education arrangements. The primary caretaker is therefore tasked with making decisions that are in the best interest of the children.

There are a few factors that can influence which parent is deemed the primary caretaker including the age of the child, who fulfilled more tasks of a primary caretaker during the marriage and how the split could affect the daily lives of the child.

Research shows that interrupting a child’s routine following a divorce can drastically affect his or her psychological stability. Therefore, the welfare of the child should be the primary concern when making arrangements.

Religious roles

The sacraments or rites your child has taken in the church could also affect primary caretaker agreements. Religious rites such as baptism, communion or confirmation affect how the church views your child as a member. Often, a child is considered an adult by the church before the age of 18. If your child is old enough to have taken communion or undergone confirmation, he or she may be old enough to make a religious decision to stay in or leave the church.

Speaking to an attorney who provides comprehensive family law representation can help you and your spouse come to an agreement on the primary caretaker’s role in the religious and moral upbringing of a child.