In a divorce case that’s drawn national attention, a Chicago man who claims he has returned to his Catholic roots will be allowed to take his 3-year-old daughter to church, despite the objections of the girl’s Jewish mother, a Cook County judge ruled this afternoon.
Cook County Judge Renee Goldfarb previously had denied Joseph Reyes’ request to take his daughter Ela to Easter services, citing the pending divorce decree.
But Goldfarb said in a written divorce judgment today: “This court does not find, at this time, that it would be in the best interest of Ela to restrict Joseph’s visitation. He can take Ela to church services during his visitation time if he so chooses. This court will also order that Joseph have visitation with Ela every year on Christmas and Easter.”
Goldfarb said her decision to let Reyes take his daughter to church was based on “the best interest of the child.”
The judge said she found “no evidence . . . that taking 3-year-old Ela to church during Joseph’s visitation time is or would be harmful to Ela. She is three years old and, according to Joseph, while at church she waves at the other children, looks around and giggles. This court found that testimony credible.”
But, in her 30-page ruling dissolving Reyes’ six-year marriage to Rebecca Reyes, the judge also offered a stinging assessment of Joseph Reyes, a 35-year-old law student.
“Joseph, at times, seems to choose what is in the best interest of Joseph, rather than what is in the best interests of Ela,” the judge wrote.
She noted that he “chose” not to have visitation with his daughter for six months and also “not to get a job to help support Ela.”
The judge also was critical of Reyes’ efforts to publicize his case, which included bringing along a TV news crew when he took the girl to church in defiance of a court order.
“Joseph chose to make three-year-old Ela the center of his own media event, as seen on every local news channel, print media and national news channels during his visitation,” Goldfarb wrote. “Joseph chose to dispense three-year-old Ela’s picture to the media.”
Rebecca Reyes, who has sole custody of Ela, is Jewish. Joseph Reyes is a Catholic who converted to Judaism after Ela was born.
Rebecca Reyes said the couple agreed to raise the girl in the Jewish faith. But Joseph Reyes said that he’d felt pressured by his in-laws to convert and that, once the couple split, he returned to his Catholic roots.
Joseph Reyes had the child baptized at a south suburban Catholic church in November and sent photos of the event to the girl’s mother, escalating their divorce battle.
Rebecca Reyes then got a restraining order that ordered the father not to expose the child to any religion other than Judaism. That order has now been lifted.
Click HERE for the court ruling.
(Source: Chicago Sun Times)