What Do I Do if My Ex Is Teaching Our Kids to Look Down on Other Religions?

Posted by Joseph Lento | Feb 24, 2023 | 0 Comments

Co-parenting after a divorce is no easy task, and it can be a process of constant give-and-take with your former spouse on everything from bedtimes to holiday plans. But there might be times when you're not willing to compromise—for example, if your ex is instilling religious intolerance into your kids or teaching them to look down on faiths other than their own. What should you do in this tricky situation?

Religion and Co-Parenting

In Pennsylvania, custody agreements can include provisions about a child's religious upbringing, like whether they will attend church or religion classes. Courts are hesitant to infringe on someone's First Amendment right to practice their religion as they see fit, including taking children to religious services or instilling the tenets of any religion into their daily life, as long as they are not harming the children in some way. However, that reluctance doesn't mean that you have to just stand by and let your former spouse indoctrinate your children into religious views that you disagree with, such as intolerance of other faiths.

To start, evaluate what your custody agreement says about religion. If you and your ex agreed that your kids would attend religious services, did you specify what church they would go to? Or what religious denomination they would be raised in? If your spouse is taking them to a different house of worship, that may violate the custody agreement, making this something you can ask a court to address. Contact our Pennsylvania Family Law Team and the LLF Law Firm for help in this type of situation.

When You and Your Former Spouse Disagree

But if your custody agreement isn't clear on this matter or your former spouse isn't violating the letter of it, you may have to address the issue differently. If possible, start by having an honest discussion with your ex about their behavior and your concerns. Be clear about your objections and the changes you'd like your ex to make. This may be enough to make them rethink what they are teaching your children.

You can also sit down with your kids, discuss what your ex has been teaching them, and give them another point of view to consider. In some cases, you may be able to help your children make up their own minds instead of getting pulled into your ex's beliefs. However, you should be careful not to insult your ex or their religious beliefs.

If what your ex is teaching your kids is extreme enough to make them do something like act out at school (for example, by bullying kids of other religions), that changes the stakes of the situation, and you could argue that your ex's behavior is harming the kids. In this case, it's important to make sure the behavior is documented by a school official. Speak with our experienced Pennsylvania Family Law Team to discuss how you can update your custody agreement to address cases like this.

Getting Help When You Need It

Divorce and co-parenting are difficult, and it's important to have a committed advocate on your side. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation with the LLF Law Firm if you have questions about how to deal with your ex. Our Family Law Team can help you navigate the complex family law system to make sure your kids are being raised in a safe, healthy environment that truly reflects your values.

About the Author

Joseph Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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