Sagar v. Sagar case brief summary
781 N.E.2d 54 (2003)
Plaintiff, a wife, sought a divorce
from defendant, her husband, in the Middlesex Division of the Probate
and Family Court Department (Massachusetts). The trial judge ruled
that a religious ceremony could not be performed on the parties'
child until she was of sufficient age to determine whether to undergo
the ritual, absent a written agreement between the parties, and
granted the wife physical custody. The father appealed the judgment.
CASE FACTS The father argued that the order
concerning the religious ritual violated his right to free exercise
of religion and that the trial judge erred in granting the wife
physical custody over the recommendation of a guardian ad litem that
no designation of a primary physical custodian should be made.
appellate court held that, because neither parent demonstrated a
compelling State interest justifying intervention, the trial judge's
order concerning the religious ritual would be affirmed, as it
intruded least upon both parents' fundamental rights while remaining
compatible with the child's health.
The husband failed to demonstrate
a compelling State interest for performing the ceremony on the child,
as evidence was lacking that failure to perform the ceremony would
cause the child significant harm by adversely affecting the child's
health, safety, or welfare.
The wife did not establish that
performing the ceremony would subject the child to physical or
The appellate court held that the trial judge did
not abuse his discretion in awarding joint legal custody to the
parents and designating the wife's residence as the child's primary
The judgment was affirmed. Suggested law school course materials, hornbooks, and guides for Constitutional Law
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