Thursday, 15 November 2007

Atheism, Divorce and Custody Battles by Larro

Somebody in my extended family is undergoing a custody battle with her divorced husband. She is a good Christian and her ex wants joint custody. I just got off the phone with her and thought to myself "Good thing you aren't an atheist."

What made me think this? Cruising around the net will explain why.

Carson v. Carson, 401 N.W.2d 632, 635–36
(Mich. Ct. App. 1986) (quoting trial court as opining that it “was a little bit distraught in finding that there was no particular affiliation [held by either parent] with a church,” because “[p]robably 95 percent of the criminals that I see before me come from homes where there’s no . . . established religious affiliation,”

Sharrow v. Davis, Nos. 244043, 245117, 2003 WL 21699876, at *3
(Mich. Ct. App. July 22, 2003) (noting that “[father] never attended church and his older children were not baptized,” that “[father] felt [the children] should experience many religions and choose one when they were older,” and that though “[mother] did not attend church regularly, she attended periodically and would take all of the children with her”);

Goodrich v. Jex, No. 243455, 2003 WL 21362971, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. June 12, 2003) (noting “that [father] has a greater capacity and willingness to continue to take the parties’ daughters to church and related activities,” and that trial court had been “concerned with [mother’s] belief that her minor daughters are capable of making their own decisions whether to attend church”);

Sims v. Stanfield, No. CA98-1040, 1999 WL 239888, at *3–*4 (Ark. Ct. App. Apr. 21, 1999)
(noting that lower court based award of custody to father partly on father’s having “‘rekindled’ a relationship with his church,” “regularly attend[ing] services,” and providing “a Christian home,” but declining on procedural grounds to review this);

Tweedel v. Tweedel, 484 So. 2d 260, 262 (La. Ct. App. 1986)
(noting that “The child attends church regularly with the mother and receives religious instruction. The father testified that he has not brought the child to church because the child did not want to go and that he would not force the child to go to church.”);

Staggs v. Staggs, No. 2004-CA-00443-COA, 2005 WL 1384525, at *6
(Miss. Ct. App. May 24, 2005) (noting that “[w]hile [father] is an agnostic and testified that religion is not important to him, [mother] testified that religion is very important to her”);

Weigand v. Houghton, 730 So. 2d 581, 587 (Miss. 1999)
(noting chancellor’s “weighing heavily” as factor in mother’s favor that “mother has seen that [the son] is taken to church and undergone religious training, along with the entire family” and that “[the son’s] best interest would be served by providing religious training”).

Gancas v. Schultz, 683 A.2d 1207, 1213–14 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1996)
(reversing lower court’s transfer of custody from mother to father, based partly on lower court’s “fail[ure] to consider ‘all factors which legitimately have an effect upon the child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being,’” and in particular that while “[m]other . . . takes [daughter] to church whenever [daughter] is with her,” “[f]ather, an admitted agnostic, does not attend church”).

Myers v. Myers, 14 Phila. 224, 256–57 (Com. Pl. 1986)
(“Although the issue of religion is not controlling in a custody case, the religious training of children is a matter of serious concern and is a factor that should be considered in rendering a custody decision. ‘A proper religious atmosphere is an attribute of a good home and it contributes significantly to the ultimate welfare of a child.’ Where it appears that the religious training of the children will cease upon placement in a given custodial setting, courts lean in favor of the religious-minded contestant.”), aff’d without op., 520 A.2d 68 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1986);

Scheeler v. Rudy, 2 Pa. D. & C.3d 772, 780 (Com. Pl. 1977)
(awarding custody to mother, noting as factor in her favor that she often took children to church, while father rarely did, that “[t]his court has often noted the absence of any regular church attendance in the pre- sentence reports of those who have been convicted of some crime, which appear on our desk,” and that “a religious education and upbringing can have a substantial effect upon the outlook and attitudes of a child, and in turn upon the life of the adult he or she will become.”)

Pountain v. Pountain, 503 S.E.2d 757, 761 (S.C. Ct. App. 1998)
(upholding denial of custody to father whom court described as “agnostic,” and stating that “Although the religious beliefs of parents are not dispositive in a child custody dispute, they are a factor relevant to determining the best interest of a child”);

In re F.J.K., 608 S.W.2d 301 (Tex. App. 1980)
(noting “the mother’s neglect of the children’s religious upbringing,” and “[a]n atheistic philosophy [being] . . . discussed by the new husband to some extent with the daughter, prompting her to advise her nursery school teacher that she was ‘not a Christian or a Jew but an atheist’”).

Source: Atheists Discriminated Against in Child Custody Cases

In 1992 a South Dakota man "will agree to present a plan to the Court of how
[he] is going to commence providing some sort of spiritual opportunity for the [children] to learn about God while in [his] custody." Similar language was couched in 2005 Arkansas, 2002 Georgia, 2005 Louisiana, 2004 Minnesota, 2005 Mississippi, 2006 New York, 2005 North Carolina, 1996 Pennsylvania, 2004 South Carolina, 1997 Tennessee, 2000 Texas, and, going back to the 1970s and 1980s, Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska.

In 2000, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a mother to take her child to church each week, reasoning that "it is certainly to the best interests of [the child] to receive regular and systematic spiritual training" in 1996, the Arkansas Supreme Court did the same, partly on the grounds that weekly
church attendance, rather than just the once-every-two-weeks attendance that the child would have had if he went only with the other parent, provides superior "moral instruction."

All this is done under the rubric of the "best interests of the
child" standard, the normal rule applied in custody disputes between two parents and this standard leaves family court judges ample room to consider a parent's ideology.

Source (PDF):
PARENT-CHILD SPEECH AND CHILD CUSTODY SPEECH RESTRICTIONS
-><- atheist child custody - Google Search
atheist child custody - Atheist Blogroll Search
atheist child custody - Google News Archive Search

Regardless if any of these opinions and judgments were overturned the court statements speak for themselves of the bias and prejudice toward non-believers in the US. The United States is not alone in the ideological divide and the personal prejudices that justices take liberty with while on the bench. These are local and state judges who are not appointed but elected. What does that say about our so-called secular society?

As an American, our constitution is a text left open for interpretation by the Judicial branch. When judges waver from the first amendment it saddens me to no end.

Essentially, I think we should all get the message very clearly. Christians think atheists (or even non-churchgoers) are shit and not worthy of raising their own children if it doesn't fall in line with so-called "moral instruction".

The first amendment stands on one leg.

12 comments:

tina said...

Ever watch, "Keep Your Jesus off my Penis video?" It is hilarious but very true! Check it out on You Tube.

handmaiden said...

The first amendment stands on one leg.

But, The first amendment has always been subject to interpretation. Ideally, it reflects a moving forward in our higher conscientiousness. (Think of the civil rights advances in the 50's & 60's.)
Political climate determines a lot. That is why I think we are at a point where the Supreme court is going to face some decisions involving religious freedoms that they have been frankly avoiding.
Unfortunately, if the court is overwhelmingly unbalanced in a conservative way, (which is a big possibility) higher conscientiousness as we liberals see it could suffer.

Interested said...

Thanks Tina. I love the video.

Larro thank you for this post. I knew it was true that the courts use religion in custody cases, but had no documentation.

tina said...

Beast, you are tagged! Go to my post for rules, it's a short one. misterjebsblog

Infidel753 said...

This is nothing but enforcing bigotry from the bench. Someone (the ACLU?) needs to take a particularly blatant case and appeal it to get a ruling which would set a precedent against this kind of thing. It might be better to wait until a Democratic President has had a chance to make a couple of Supreme Court appointments, though.

It's dangerous to have children if you belong to an unpopular group.

Anonymous said...

oooooo poor atheists being discriminated against. big fucking deal. youre aheists, face it and die.

BEAST said...

Anonymous:

If you have nothing better to say, shut the fuck up.

At the very least, have the courtesy to leave a name behind.

Kindly read the front notice on my blog: Repeated violation of rules will invoke a ban.

Beast

Atheist hater said...

ban be bitch, i'll ban you from heaven. Fucktard

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Anonymous said...

In the case of the separation of my marriage and the custody and care of our children, preference is being given to the atheist (my husband) and I am being discriminated against simply because I have had a religious upbringing and have faith in God. He is being given the right to make all decisions regarding the "religious upbringing" of our children when he does not even promote any kind of "religious upbringing" at all. I do not understand why an atheist would be given the right to make all decisions regarding his children's religious upbringing. I do not see equity in that decision at all. An equitable decision would be to allow us both equal say in how our children are taught about faith, and to give the children the chance to decide for themselves what they believe once they are grown (after having been exposed to both options). Why give complete control to the one who has no spiritual faith at all? A logical reason for this inequity has not even been established by the person who has recommended this.

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