New York – In a surprising ruling, a Brooklyn appeals court struck down an earlier ruling that had awarded a Chasidic man sole custody of his children after his openly gay ex-wife violated the religious upbringing clause spelled out in their divorce agreement.
The Daily News reported (http://nyp.st/2vLociq) that Naftali Weisberger won a three year legal battle with his wife Chavie who abandoned her Chasidic lifestyle after the couple’s marriage disintegrated in 2009.
Weisberger sued for full custody of the couple’s children, then ages five, six and eight in 2012, arguing that his ex-wife had violated the terms of their divorce which stipulated that Chavie Weisberger give her children a strict religious upbringing.
Weisberger said that this wife cut off her son’s payos, forced their children to watch a movie about alternative lifestyles, was living with a transgender man and had told their oldest child that she was attracted to women.
Chavie Weisberger, who serves on the board of an organization that supports gay rights in the Jewish community and is a staff member with Footsteps, appealed that decision and had custody restored last month.
According to the terms of the decision, Chavie Weisberger is required to continue sending her children to Chasidic schools and to allow them to practice their religion freely when visiting with their father on weekends and Jewish holidays.
The three judge appeals court wrote in its decision that the religious upbringing clause should not interfere with a parent’s right “to express oneself freely.”
“The nature of the evidence does not support the conclusion that it is in the children’s best interest to have their mother categorically conceal the true nature of her feelings and beliefs from them at all time and in all respects,” wrote the judges.