Mothers leaving ultra-religious groups, and religious upbringing as a factor in custody disputes
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Fri Apr 20 06:09:23 PDT 2012
There's an interesting op-ed at http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2012/04/among_nj_orthodox_jewish_women.html that faults the child custody law preference for stability of religious upbringing: When women leave arranged marriages in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community -- and leave ultra-Orthodoxy more general -- they may sometimes lose custody of their children on the grounds that the person who remains within the community is more able to provide stability of religious upbringing.
I'm inclined to say that this rule (which of course could equally apply to fathers who leave a religious community as well, though I don't know how relatively frequent such departures are) is a sound one, for children who are old enough to have some experience with the religion and thus some stake in stability of religious upbringing. To be sure, the rule does create some pressure against departing the faith, since often someone who leaves the group can no longer raise the children in the same religious environment even if she's willing to, because the group might no longer accept her; but this seems in this situation to be an acceptable and denominationally neutral rule (especially if it is equally applied to a parent who moves into a ultra-religious community which disrupts the stability of the children's nonreligious, or only mildly religious, upbringing). But I still thought I'd mention the op-ed, in case people think it's a difficult and interesting question.
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