• March 7, 2023
  • Yoni Levoritz
  • Divorce

The Impact of a Jewish Divorce on Children
A guide by the Levoritz Law Firm

There are a lot of contested matters in a divorce- Jewish or not. You may still be very religious, and your ex-spouse may not be and choose to be secular. Divorce becomes even more complicated when you are obtaining a Jewish divorce and you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have children. Read on to find ways to lessen a divorce’s impact on your children.

How can you best support your children through a divorce?

● Ensure that you tell your children that it is not their fault that you and your ex-spouse are getting a divorce.
● Try to be true to yourself, but maintain the “status quo” of the children.
● If possible, keep the children in the same school and activities, including secular and religious.
● Consider switching custody every Shabbat so that every other week, your children can spend the weekly holiday with the other parent.
● Make sure to try your best to be amicable with your soon-to-be ex-spouse while in the presence of your children.
● Treat your children the same as when you and your ex-spouse were married.
● Never gossip about your ex-spouse in a manner that your children could overhear.
● Try to keep Shabbat or the Friday sabbath as “normal” as pre-divorce.
● Consider enrolling your children into therapeutic services, like talk therapy or children of divorce support groups.

Can you potentially lose custody of your children if you choose not to raise them according to Jewish Customs?

According to a New York Times article, it may depend on the Judge presiding over your divorce family law matter in New York state on whether or not the parent’s religious customs come into play for decision-making for the children’s custody. However, the issue is more complex than just the presiding Judge in your divorce case.

In the past decisions of New York state, there have been many contested legal issues regarding one parent remaining Orthodox and one parent choosing their own non-religious or secular path. However, the New York state courts are becoming less and less likely to rule on child custody issues or divorce issues on the basis of one parent remaining religious due to freedom of expression and freedom of religion issues in civil law. In the past, there was a presumption that the religious-affiliated parent was to be awarded custody, regardless of the parent’s gender. Still, as the New York courts decide on more and more child custodial issues, this is less and less likely to be the norm. Now, New York Civil courts maintain that custody is awarded according to the child’s best interests, not the parent’s religious ideology.

Religious customs are at issue during divorce proceedings and children because the court attempts its best to maintain the “status quo” of the children whose parents are getting divorced.

What does New York State law dictate about children in Jewish Divorces?

The New York State courts are strongly interested in maintaining the “status quo” for the children subject to their parents obtaining a divorce. In some cases, the New York courts have construed their goal of maintaining the status quo for children as keeping up with the ultra-orthodox traditions of Jewish life as a child. In other cases, this could look like ensuring that the family has enough funds to send their children to a private Jewish school or summer camp or set aside funds for their bar or bat mitzvahs.

In one particularly polarizing New York divorce case, the Judge had issued that the children may live with their non-religious or secular mother as long as they continued to attend a traditional private Jewish School, which was their father’s wish. This case illustrates that compromises can be made in a civil court in New York that protects all three parties: the mother, the father, and the children.

Need Help with a Jewish Divorce?

If you are considering a divorce from your spouse, or have questions about your divorce process, call the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at the Levoritz Law firm today at 855.213.3104.

What about the Jewish Holidays with Children?

It is essential to consider the Jewish holidays when deciding on custodial matters of the children whose parents are obtaining a divorce in either civil or religious court. These matters should be negotiated during the child custody proceedings to ensure that both parents are on board with the decisions regarding the Jewish holidays and that the children understand what will happen throughout the years after a divorce. Each family has different methods for deciding how the children’s time will be spent during the Jewish holidays.

If the children are old enough, some parents may inquire directly with the children to see if they have an opinion on whom the holiday should be spent with. Other ex-spouses, who decide to become less religious, may not argue and ensure that the religious ex-spouse has the right to enjoy the Jewish holiday with their children. Some ex-spouses may even split the 12 major Jewish holidays with each other so that the children spend half the holidays with one parent and the other half with the other parent.

Splitting the holiday time spent with each parent may be particularly beneficial for longer Jewish holidays, like Passover or Hannakuh, where the holiday lasts several days. This way, the children can experience the holiday with both parents and both parents’ extended family.

How do children of Orthodox Jewish parents view divorce?

According to the study “The Impact of Parental Divorce on Orthodox Jewish Marital Relationships,” children of Orthodox Jewish parents view divorce the same as their secular or non-religiously Jewish counterparts. Results of the study indicate no significant differences between Orthodox Jewish adult children of divorce and Orthodox Jewish adult children of intact marriages in their marital commitment or marital satisfaction, which is the same findings of secular adult children of divorce and non-divorced parents.

The Levoritz Law Firm has years of combined experience working on religious custodial issues. Call them today for assistance with your divorce at 855.213.3104.

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