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Child custody dispute centers on radicalization claims

When most couples go before a Pennsylvania family court to argue over the care and custody of a shared child, their legal positions are relatively standard. One parent often feels that he or she is better able to provide the care and attention a child needs. In some cases, however, a parent makes assertions that are far outside the norm. Such is the case in a recent child custody case in which a mother claims that her former husband is attempting to radicalize her son during visitation time.

The couple divorced in 2013 and share two children together. According to the woman, her former husband began embracing extreme interpretations of their Islamic faith during the marriage. He allegedly began demanding that she dress in a traditional manner and expressed his desire to take on an additional wife.

The mother claims that her child is beginning to display extremist and anti-American beliefs after spending time with his father. Those claims are backed up by a school report outlining an altercation where the boy told schoolmates that he was willing to die for his God. That led to an FBI investigation.

It is believed that this child custody case is the first of its kind in America. The mother is asking for full custody under claims that the child's father is indoctrinating the boy into extremist Muslim beliefs. As the court continues to consider the matter, the judge is tasked with balancing the religious freedoms of a parent with the best interests of the child. That same standard is used in Pennsylvania child custody cases, regardless of how those cases are structured.

Source:, "New York mother fights for custody of son, says boy's father is radicalizing their child", Nov. 30, 2017

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