Officially released February 25, 2020.
In Short: If you want a divorce, you can have a divorce.
Husband filed an action for legal separation and Wife filed a cross complaint seeking dissolution of marriage. The parties had one child.
After a pendente lite evidentiary hearing, consistent with the recommendations of the child’s Guardian Ad Litem, the trial court issued pendente lite orders permitting both parties to travel internationally with the child and selecting a school for the child. Husband appealed that decision. This appeal was mooted by the final judgment, which extinguished the order.
The parties then entered into a parenting plan agreement, which was adopted by the Court. Husband thereafter filed a motion seeking to change school districts. The trial court held a two-day hearing on the underlying action. Wife testified that she needed a divorce, not a legal separation. The trial court dissolved the marriage finding irretrievable breakdown and entered parenting orders consistent with the prior pendente lite orders.
Husband appealed the Judgment of dissolution arguing that (1) the court violated the free exercise clause of the first amendment of the United States constitution by granting a dissolution and (2) improperly entered orders regarding the child’s school and travel.
Unsurprisingly, the Appellate Court held that the granting of dissolution does not violate a party’s right to exercise of religion. The Appellate Court further found no abuse of discretion in the custody orders.