Elina Margolina and Nelson Debrigny both say they want what's best for their school age son. The two got together in 1995 when Margolina was a stripper at a nightclub Debrigny managed. Both said they got out of the adult entertainment business years ago.
Margolina accuses her ex-husband of not following their 2007 child custody agreement, in which she is to lead the religious directives. Debrigny said he's fine with reasonably accommodating his son's Jewish upbringing, but thinks his ex-wife is now too religiously extreme.
Judge John Carr is hearing the case. Neither Margolina nor her lawyer David Grund would speak to the media about the case. Her ex-husband is represented by Joel Brodsky.
"I am trying to teach him that he can be Jewish but it doesn't have to limit him in his exposure to other outside pursuits," said Derbigny. "You know you can be Jewish and not have to wear it on your sleeve every day."
Testimony over the past two days has centered on a psychologist's report paid for by Margolina that says the child's best interests are served by growing up in a strict Jewish setting. She is now remarried to a Hasidic Jew and accuses Debrigny of undermining their religious beliefs.
"I was never told I couldn't feed him bacon. There's no restriction on what I can feed him," said Debrigny.
Thursday's court hearing on shared custody was about who is the better decision-making parent.
"She is absolutely entitled to her beliefs, but her religious beliefs almost require her to marginalize dad. And we are going to show that to the court," said Brodsky.
This family law expert, says visitation, custody and childcare issues are always modifiable.
"He signed up for raising the child in the Jewish tradition and part of the Jewish tradition is to follow certain standards. So I am not sure he can go as far as saying he is going to change it," said Corri Fetman, family law attorney.