Does the Family Court believe in the Easter Bunny?

Does the Family Court believe in the Easter Bunny?

For many Christians, Easter is considered the most important event in the church’s calendar. Around the same time, other religions of course also have important events as well. There is “Passover” for the Jews, “Holi” for Hindus, Buddha’s Birthday for Buddhists and Tomb-sweeping day for the Chinese. Within Christianity too there is conflict. For example, the Eastern Orthodox Church calculates Easter on a different day because they use a different calendar and Jehovah Witnesses, expressly forbid their members from partaking in the ancillary practices of Easter Eggs and the like.

Each of these religions typically encourage families to celebrate the events as one, but what happens when the family breaks down and the parents separate?

Where the parents share the same faith but cannot be civil with each other, Family Court Judges can and routinely do make orders placing the children exclusively in the care of one parent for the religious event in one year and alternating to the other parent in the following year. This generally occurs even in cases where one parent accuses the other of being non-devout and therefore unlikely to practice the relevant religious traditions at all. This is because the Australian Constitution prohibits any branch of the government from discriminating against any person on grounds of their religious (or non-religious) convictions.

Where the parents hold different religious affiliations and adherence to one faith falls into direct conflict with the other, Family Courts again can make orders ranging all the way up to banning the children from a specific religious or festive practice. If orders of this type are to be made however, a Judge will never do so by attempting to work out which religion is “better” than the other. Instead the Courts will look at each parent’s competing beliefs and practices as if they were a “life style choice” and from there go on to assess which of these competing lifestyles offer a better fit for the children’s best interest having regard to the full spread of all of the aspects of the children’s life with one parent or the other.

Thus far, no Family Court Judge has ever made an order banning the Easter Bunny from one house or ordering that he be permitted to enter another but in an extreme situation of parental conflict a Judge certainly has the power to do so.