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Resolving family disputes over children’s religious upbringing

August 13, 2012 Speech Box

Following on my previous article dealing with the religious upbringing of children I thought it would be interesting to refer to the case of Re N (a child: religion: Jehovah’s Witness).  This was a case in which the father of the child applied to restrict the extent to which the child’s mother involved the child in the practice of her religion as a Jehovah’s Witness.

The case sets out the principles that a Court will apply in matters relating to religious upbringing:

  1. Parental Responsibility is joint and equal and neither parent has an overriding right to choose a child’s religious upbringing.
  2. In cases where the parents follow different religions, but both religions are socially acceptable, the child should have the opportunity to learn about both religions.
  3. Where the practice of a particular religion involves a lifestyle which is in conflict with the lifestyle of the other parent and this conflict may have an impact on the child’s welfare then the Court will look at restricting the child’s involvement in those practices.
  4. Any restriction imposed by the Court must be reasonable and proportionate.
  5. As always in determining issues relating to the upbringing of a child it is the child’s welfare that is the Court’s paramount consideration.

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