There are times when men will approach the Men’s Legal Center with a very specific request regarding their divorce. These men hope to have their children brought up in a certain religion and want that language written in their divorce settlement agreement. Unfortunately, forcing someone else to raise children in a religious atmosphere is difficult if not impossible to do. Even if your ex-wife signs the agreement, it is often not possible to enforce.
This is because freedom of religion is one of our rights we hold dear as Americans. If you try to force someone to follow the traditions or customs of any religion, you could be perceived as violating that person’s civil rights. Furthermore, forcing a parent to raise their children in a religion with which they do not agree is also frowned upon, and it may be detrimental to the children as well.
However, we understand that religion is a very personal thing and your deeply-held beliefs are just as important as those of your former spouse. How can you ensure that your children receive religious instruction? Here are a few tips from the Men’s Legal Center:
- Acknowledge your limits. Start with the position that you cannot force your ex-spouse to comply with your religious wishes. Begin a dialogue in which you explain to your spouse how important it is to you for your children to receive religious instruction. If she is not willing to listen, stop the conversation. You have nothing to gain by becoming angry or by pushing the issue.
- Talk to your religious counselor. Most religions have provisions for children and adults who are separated from regular worship by circumstance. Be sure your religious leader knows of your circumstances and seek their counsel in the matter.
- Gain support from your church family. When you do have your children, make going to church a fun event. Most likely, this will do far more to bring your children closer to your religion than arguing with their mom about it. In fact, it may be that your children have such a good time at church that they nag their mom to take them as well!
- Control what you can control. When your children are with you, talk to them about your beliefs, being careful not to downgrade their mother and her beliefs. Your kids will respect your honest sharing with them.
The Men’s Legal Center is here to help you through your most difficult divorce questions and situations.