LOUISIANA: Right To Cultural Upbringing Belongs To Both Parents

Trial Court Erred In Awarding Right of Religious and Cultural Upbringing Solely to the Custodial Parent

Louisiana, March 10, 2010: D.R.S. (Father) and L.E.K. (Mother) were not married, but had a child. The family Court gave Mother physical custody, with sole right of determining religious and cultural  upbringing of the child. Father was  awarded visitation only. On appeal by the Father, Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit reversed.

The Court, in Case of D. R. S. v. L. E. K., Nos. 09-1274-09-1275, found “Though the custodial or domiciliary parent may raise the child in a legitimate religion of his/her own choosing, that parent may not force that religion or religious affiliation upon the noncustodial parent or preclude the noncustodial parent from pursuing his/her own religious affiliation and sharing same with the child provided doing so does not negatively affect the best interests of the child. There is no statutory nor jurisprudential authority to support the trial court’s ruling that the custodial or domiciliary parent has the sole authority to mandate “what belief system is presented to the child in . . . any home in which the child visits or resides.”

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