Legal Appeal Challenges Civil No-Fault Divorce
The following press release was just emailed to me:
An Ohio mother of four has launched a constitutional appeal against an Ohio civil divorce and custody decision, arguing her religious beliefs and free speech were used against her in the proceedings.
Marie “Bai” Macfarlane’s husband abandoned her and their four children in 2003 and began no-fault divorce proceedings. Mrs. Macfarlane is a stay-at-home mother and devout Roman Catholic who homeschooled her children until 2004.
Her potentially precedent-setting appeal was submitted by Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek. The Constitutional Law professor argues: “The civil courts do not have sole authority to end her marriage or to control the upbringing of her children. These religious and moral beliefs may be considered alien or quaint in our culture. Yet, the holding fast to such beliefs should not result in discrimination against a mother.”
Mrs. Macfarlane said, “My husband and I agreed to marry for life. Even if disputes arose, I expected that we would resolve them as Catholics, from the Church’s moral position.”
The civil divorce court refused to allow a third party arbitrator, the ecclesiastic authority of the Roman Catholic Church, to determine separation procedures, financial settlements and custody of the children. This is despite legal precedents set in cases of Jewish or Islamic marriages. Further, the appeal argues the Guardian for the children in the case was hostile to Mrs. Macfarlane’s religious views and did not act properly in defending the interests of the Macfarlane children. The Guardian removed them from their mother’s care although the court psychologist report states the children, “do want more time with their mom” and the older boys “were adamant supporters of homeschooling.”
The court’s ruling gave the father, who works full time, permanent custody and their stay-at-home mom visitation time. This occurred despite the fact that the father, “did not have a single family member or friend or even an employee who could testify on his abilities to serve as a custodial parent. However, a veritable blizzard of family and friends testified on behalf of Mrs. Macfarlane.”
Mrs. Macfarlane says: “I was forced to stop homeschooling my three older children. My youngest child is in daycare although I am willing to stay home and care for my children. I have no right to make any decision regarding their upbringing. Finally, although we as a family poured our lives and savings into a non-profit foundation, my husband runs it and I have been ordered to get another job.”
Mrs. Macfarlane has taken her case on a parallel track before the Church Tribunals.
Mrs. Macfarlane has founded the website www.marysadvocates.org for people concerned about no-fault divorce. To learn more about Professor Safranek’s public interest law firm handling this case, visit www.truemarriage.net.
For more information contact:
Mr. Stephen Safranek
3475 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105.
Phone: (734) 827-8096.