NEWARK, N.J. (Aug. 14)
A divorced Jewish father has won custody of his two children through an Essex County (Newark) Superior Court ruling which upheld his contention that he could better raise them as Jews in New Jersey than could his divorced wife who moved with them to a small Idaho town where they were the only Jews, it was disclosed here today.
The ruling was made in May by Judge William Consodine, who withheld the names of the parents. It was brought out during the hearing here that both parents had sought to raise the two children Jewishly. After the divorce the mother was awarded the custody of the children, as is the usual procedure. But when she married a Protestant and went to live with him in the Idaho town, the father sued for custody in the Essex County court.
Judge Consodine noted, in his ruling, that there were only two synagogues in Idaho, the nearest one 300 miles from the town, and that only 500 of Idaho’s 692,000 residents were Jews. The father, he stressed, lives in northern New Jersey where “temples, Hebrew schools and extra-religious facilities abound.” The Jurist held that the Idaho environment could undermine the faith of the two Jewish children.
Judge Consodine, a Catholic, noted also that while religion is not by itself a decisive factor in custody situations, it is important, particularly when it is related to the legally expressed wishes of the parents. On that basis, he ordered the children returned to their father with whom, he ruled, they would have a better chance of continuing to be Jews.