Colorado is home to people of many different religious faiths. We have countless Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, in addition to people who practice no formal religion. Like other states and the United States as a whole, Colorado does not have an official state religion, so your religion does not dictate your ability to get divorced. Below are answers to some common questions people have about religion and divorce.
Will My Choice of Religion Impact How a Court Treats Me?
It shouldn’t. Men and women stand on equal footing before the court, and a court does not apply any presumptions based on sex, religion, or race. If you have children, then a court will decide custody based on the child’s best interests. Generally, judges are not interested in your religion.
There are a couple of situations where religion might come into play. First, you might be a different religion than your spouse and children. For example, you could be raising your children Jewish while you are a Catholic. A judge might want to know how granting you custody will impact the child’s religious upbringing. One of the factors a judge considers under CRS §14-10-124 is how the child has adjusted to the community, and this can include the religious community. If your child is a teenager, then you will strengthen your argument if you show you are tolerant of his or her religion.
Second, you might cover your face as part of your religion. During a hearing, the judge might ask you to remove your veil so that he or she can see your face during testimony. If this is an issue for you, discuss it with your attorney ahead of time.
Will the Court Apply Religious Law?
No. A court applies Colorado’s divorce law regardless of what religion you and your spouse practice. It also doesn’t matter what faith the religious leader was who married you. For example, a Colorado court will not grant a Sharia divorce to a Muslim couple. Instead, the judge applies Colorado law.
Can I Choose What Religion My Child Practices?
This is a very complicated question. As part of a divorce, a court will determine parenting responsibilities and parenting time. Parents can share parenting responsibilities, such as determining a child’s religious upbringing. If you and your ex share this responsibility, then you need to come to an agreement on religious upbringing. In some cases, judges allocate final decision-making authority to one parent, who will ultimately get the say on religious upbringing. If authority is truly split equally, then a judge will probably need to decide the issue when parents cannot agree.
What happens if you are the only parent who was given parental responsibilities? Although rare, this does happen. For example, the other parent could have been absent or abusive. If you alone have parental responsibilities, then you can decide your child’s religious upbringing.
Questions about Religion and Divorce? Contact Divorce Matters
We are a team of divorce lawyers in Colorado which has represented many men and women involved in dissolution of marriage proceedings. If you have any questions, please contact us today.