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The Palace of Justice in Rome, which houses Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation

OCTOBER 1, 2019

Italian Supreme Court Upholds Equal Religious Education in Child-Custody Case

A significant legal ruling related to child custody and parents’ rights was handed down on August 30, 2019, by the Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. The decision by Italy’s highest court upheld the right of a mother, who is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, to teach her religious beliefs to her minor child.

The non-Witness father, who is separated from the child’s mother, insisted that the child be educated exclusively according to the father’s religious beliefs. Two lower courts ruled in favor of the father, stating that teaching the child another religion could “confuse him.” These decisions hindered the mother’s right to teach her son her religious beliefs. The Supreme Court overruled the lower courts’ decisions and reaffirmed the right of the minor to have an “equal relationship with both parents.” The Court also highlighted that all religious denominations have “equal dignity before the law” and condemned what it characterized as “prejudice” towards Jehovah’s Witnesses by the lower courts. The decision establishes that, in the event of a disagreement between parents regarding the religious education of their children, a judge does not have the right to decide which religion is better.

We hope that this ruling by the Court will set a precedent for future rulings in child-custody cases in Italy. This will no doubt be beneficial for parents endeavoring to raise their children in the “discipline and admonition of Jehovah.”—Ephesians 6:4.