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Custody of 12 y.o. daughter

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What is the name of your state? New York
I have been divorced for 4 years and have sole custody of my 12 y.o. daughter. My ex pays child support and gets to see her when ever he wants. I remarried in 2001 and my husband and daughter get along very well, my ex does not like it. The big problem is our new family is Christian and my ex and his new wife are pagan. He is mad that my daughter wants nothing to do with his religion. He has taken her to rituals and meetings, and she still does not want to be apart of it. Now he is trying to get the custody agreement changed to joint so that she will have to spend 6 months out of the year living with him and 6 months with me. My daughter is so against it. She loves her school and is finally settled and doing well. She has a minor learning disability, and they have finally got her going in the right direction. Also, she knows no kids where her dad lives. She has friends here.
My ex works long hours and so does his wife. I don't work so I can be home for her. We are all concerned that she is going to be made to live with a father that she is afraid of and does not feel safe with. I was granted the divorce because of his curel and inhumane treatment of us. Please help me.
Thank you.


Senior Member
I am not sure with the NY laws, but in MI the religion issue is a part of custody. I wouldn't think pagan would be considered a religion, but I might be wrong.

However, as you say your daughter has settled in and has friends and is succeeding in school, I do not believe your ex will have much chance for shared custody. It does not sound like he lives in the same school district. This is a major factor in shared custody.

The best voice you have is your 12 year old daughter. Judges will listen to the children in most cases.

Good Luck.


Senior Member
I'm not really sure about this but this is my opinion. I think for one, the he's going to have a hard time getting it changed because he has no grounds to get it changed after all this time. Second, I think it may be possible for you to bring up the grounds of divorce to help you. Third, if it is changed for some reason..chances are you will get joint phsical and legal (you the primary residence). Fourth, I'm not sure but I think distance will be considered in this. How far does he live from you?


Thank you to those who replied. To answer some of your questions, my ex and I do not live in the same school district. We live 1 hours away from each other.
Thanks again.

Whyte Noise

Senior Member
According to the NY statutes, religion doesn't play a part in determining custody. "CHILD CUSTODY: Joint or sole child custody is to be determined according to the best interests of the child. Neither parent is entitled to a preference. There are no factors specified in the statute. [Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated; Domestic Relations Law, Volume 8, Section 240 and New York Case Law]." Now, there are some aspects of paganism that ARE recognized religions here, such as Wicca, and Druid. However, IMHO, I don't think any parent should force their religious beliefs on their children. And getting joint custody seems like it might be his way of doing just that.

I don't think that any judge is going to uproot your daughter just because her dad has decided that he wants joint custody now. There has to be a change in circumstances for that to happen, and quite frankly, I don't see one. For 4 years, she has been with you, in school, doing good, around family and friends that care.... I just don't see a judge ripping her away from that on the whim of her father.


Under the Radar Member
He's going to need a change in circumstance to get anywhere with a change in the custody order...

I'm also thinking one of the questions a judge may ask is what religion did the two of you agree to raise the child (assuming you did). You may have a problem on your hands if you were also pagan, converted to Christianity after the divorce, and are now raising your daughter as a Christian.

If it's the other way around, your ex will be on pretty shakey ground if the original plan had been to raise your child as a Christian.


Senior Member
well 6 months with one parent and 6 months with the other means somewhere the school year is NOT going to add up.....

I can't imagine a judge would change the current custody situation unless the posters EX could prove the child was in some sort of jeopardy.

As far as religious upbringing goes, I do believe most states allow the parents to practice whatever religion they choose, and expose the child to that religion while with the child. Whether the court has a right to decide whose religion would "win" I do not know....

Paganism, Wicca, and other earth based religions are NOT satan worship, but not being exactly mainstream, it would be interesting to see it used as a defense for custody.....

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