Nov 12, 2008

Religion and Custody Dispute Goes Hollywood: Madonna as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas

The issue of child custody and religion has come up in one of this year's most high-profile divorces, between pop icon Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie.

Madonna is a follower of the Jewish mystical religion called Kabbalah, and her belief system doesn't include a Christmas celebration. In years past, the family has skipped Christmas altogether, apparently with Ritchie's consent. But this year, he wants to treat the couple's two children to "a traditional English Christmas," according to the British paper The Mirror, while Madonna wants the kids to be with her on Christmas Day.

What have we learned about custody and religion so far? First, that religious issues are coming up more and more often in custody cases. And, that custodial parents have the right to make religious decisions for their kids -- but that kids who are old enough can have their own opinions on these matters factored in by the courts. In Madonna's case, the divorce is not yet completed, so there's no permanent custody order and it's not completely clear which party has the type of custodial rights that would allow them to make religious decisions for the children. And both of her children with Ritchie (she also has a daughter from a previous relationship) are too young to have their two cents considered.

As always, we hope the parents can work things out and maintain amicable joint custody of their children.

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