How Do I Navigate a Divorce That Is Based on Religious Differences?

When a couple is experiencing marital problems, and both parties are committed to making the marriage work, they may seek help from a marriage counselor or a therapist that focuses on marital issues. This can be helpful if there are trust issues, difficulties with sharing responsibilities at home, or financial stresses. However, if the couple’s problems stem from their religious differences, this can be very difficult to resolve, particularly if there are children involved.

Depending on the religion that each spouse observes, and the fundamental set of values and beliefs associated with both religions, the couple may be able to find some common ground and work through their religious differences. However, if the differences prove to be insurmountable, and the couple is unable to resolve their issues, divorce may be the only way to move forward. There are important factors to consider when pursuing a religious divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer will address these issues, as well as any questions or concerns you might have, and help you reach the best possible divorce settlement.

When a couple files for divorce in New Jersey, they must specify the reason for their divorce. Depending on the circumstances, the grounds for divorce will be listed as “fault” or “no fault.” For example, if the marriage is ending in divorce due to adultery, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, abandonment, domestic violence, one spouse will claim that the other spouse is at fault for ruining the marriage. In a no-fault divorce, the couple likely has irreconcilable differences that cannot be resolved. In order for this to be accepted as the reason for the divorce, the couple must be able to show that there was a continuous decline in the quality of their marriage and that they have passed the point of being able to salvage the relationship.

How Do Different Religions View Divorce?

Navigating a divorce is a stressful, complex, and overwhelming process under the best of circumstances. However, when a disagreement of religion is added to the mix, it becomes even more challenging for both parties involved. Even if the two spouses are both Christian, they may still have different beliefs, like in the event that one is Catholic and one is Protestant. However, it is much more difficult to find common ground if one spouse is a devout Orthodox Jew and the other is an evangelical Baptist.

Before entering into a marriage, couples should have an open, honest discussion with each other about their religious views, how likely it is that they can work through their differences, and how their respective religions view divorce. The following highlights some of the most common religions in the United States and how they approach divorce.


This is the largest religion in the world, with over 2.3 billion followers worldwide. While divorce is generally frowned upon in the Christian religion, there are certain scenarios where the Bible considers divorce acceptable, including unfaithfulness and abuse. There are many different denominations within Christianity, which have different views on divorce, including the following:

  • Catholicism: Marriage is considered a sacred sacrament in Catholicism. A couple could have their marriage annulled, which declares the marriage invalid.
  • Protestantism: In the Protestant religion, divorce is discouraged. However, if the marriage is beyond repair, many churches allow it. Remarriage is also permitted.
  • Mormonism: Mormons have a similar approach to divorce as Protestants. Couples may end their marriage in the eyes of the church by obtaining a
    “cancellation of the sealing,” which is similar to an annulment.


Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions. Divorce is discouraged in Judaism, but it is allowed. While some Orthodox Jews still observe the traditional law that states that only a man can divorce his wife, most Jewish communities allow both spouses to initiate a divorce.


There are a number of groups within the Islam religion. Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Divorce is allowed in Islam but should be considered an absolute last resort. Couples are urged to resolve their differences by working with their mosque before resorting to divorce.


Buddhism does not have strong rules against divorce. Not only is divorce allowed, but it may be recommended if the unhappy marriage is causing the couple to experience stress and suffering.

Are Interfaith Marriages More Likely to End in Divorce?

There are plenty of successful interfaith marriages, including couples of different religions, and couples where one person is religious and the other is not. However, while having significantly different religious beliefs is not a deal-breaker for some couples, the divorce rate is higher among couples who do not share the same religious beliefs. In addition, studies show that the divorce rate is higher among couples who observe different religions compared to couples where one person is non-religious. However, couples are more likely to have a successful interfaith marriage if they avoid some of the following common mistakes:

  • Avoiding talking about religion: As couples consider marriage, it is very easy to focus on the wedding, how much you love each other, and the prospect of building a life and a family together. Too often, couples avoid talking about religion, or they assume that their differences in religion are not going to have a negative impact on their marriage. However, it is something that should be discussed before getting married, particularly if you plan on having a family.
  • Ignoring the religious differences: This is another common mistake. Couples often ignore or downplay their religious differences, thinking that their love will overcome any differences they might have. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Oftentimes, as people get older, the religion that they were brought up in becomes more important, so it is important to address these differences before going into a marriage.
  • Downplaying religious traditions: Every religion has traditions that signify an important rite of passage to that faith. For example, in Judaism, 13-year-old boys and girls celebrate bar and bat mitzvahs as they come of age. There are also religious traditions associated with holidays, like Christmas, Passover, and Ramadan. If these are not discussed prior to getting married, it can create hardships down the road.
  • Imposing one’s religion on the spouse: Even if your spouse is not religious, it is never a good idea to try to impose your religious beliefs on someone else. It can lead to heated arguments, resentment, and hurt feelings. Discussions about religion can be difficult, particularly when you do not share the same beliefs, but it can help avoid bigger problems after you are married.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Couples With the Religious Divorce Process

If you and your spouse are divorcing due to differences in religious beliefs, do not hesitate to contact one of our Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our dedicated and compassionate legal team will assist you with every step of the divorce process. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.