FW: child custody/religion, part 1
obrien at WVWC.EDU
Sat Aug 1 10:26:10 PDT 1998
Jim Maule formulated an important question quite elegantly:
> Is a person relieved of otherwise binding legal obligations
> undertaken voluntarily if the person subsequently undergoes a
> transformation in religious or theological belief or philosophy
> manifested by the person's joining of a religious denomination or
> sect to which the person did not previously belong?
My own answer is that such matters of conscience should not be part of
divorce agreements and should not be enforced by a court.
Divorce agreements can include financial matters that may or may not be
effected by a change of circumstances. One of my favorites is a Wisconsin
divorce agreement that gave the wife spousal support but did not specify
that it would terminate upon remarriage. She remarried; he went to court.
The court held that it could not determine what wife had given up for that
benefit and that it would not terminate the spousal support.
Divorce agreements can obviously include custody, and a change of
circumstances can justify a reconsideration of the order. However, it
seems to me that courts should not deal with matters of conscience. The
model, perhaps, is _Shelley v. Kraemer_ which did not forbid home owners
from putting racial covenants in their deeds but which forbid courts from
enforcing such covenants.
Robert O'Brien West Virginia Wesleyan College
obrien at .wvwc.edu
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