Law Professor Defends Marriage in Appellate Court: Says No-Fault Divorce Unconstitutional as Applied to Catholics
Just a little while ago, I received the following emailed press release:
P.O. Box 451382
29737 Schwartz Road
Westlake, OH 44145
Constitutional Law Professor
“True Marriage Project”
Mrs. Marie (Bai) Macfarlane
Mary’s Advocates Founder
FOR RELEASE MAY 31, 2006
LAW PROFESSOR DEFENDS MARRIAGE IN APPELLATE COURT
NO-FAULT DIVORCE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Cleveland, OH May 31, 2006 – Constitutional law professor, Stephen Safranek is arguing in the 8th district court of appeals that forcing routine no-fault divorce on a Christian wife and children is unconstitutional. With his “True Marriage Project,” a work of his public interest law firm, Safranek asserts, “promises made by the couple, to be married in accordance with the laws of their Catholic Church, can not be ignored by the civil courts.”
“The no fault system ignores the religious beliefs and practices of the family. Indeed, in this case, the innocent spouse was punished for being on ‘a crusade’ to save her children and family.”
The appellate court case involves William (Bud) Macfarlane, a self-professed practicing Catholic who left his wife Marie (Bai) Macfarlane in July, 2003, and sought a no-fault divorce. The divorce was granted against Bai’s objections, and Bud was given permanent custody of the children. The court criticized Mrs. MacFarlane’s opinions and the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of marriage in its decision to grant custody to her husband, and to forbid her to continue homeschooling the children.
Mrs. Macfarlane laments: “I was forced to stop homeschooling because the court psychologist stated it was bad after second grade, despite the fact that my children scored well on standardized tests. My youngest child is in daycare although I want to care for my children at home. Now, I have no right to make any decision regarding their upbringing. Finally, although we as a family poured our lives into building a non-profit foundation, my husband runs it and I have been ordered to get another job.”
“The court’s ruling gave the father, who works full time, permanent custody and their stay-at-home mom visitation time,” her lead attorney, Safranek said. “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 hopes her husband will be ordered to follow the arbitration process required by his church law before seeking civil divorce. “Courts order people to follow the rules they choose in their own contracts everyday; marriage should be no different,” says Mrs. Macfarlane.
Mrs. MacFarlane has taken her case on a parallel track before the Church Tribunals and she is publicizing all these efforts on her website.
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UPDATE (24 May 2006)
Mrs. Darwin (with a link to this blog - Thanks!) has some very interesting observations about this case.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Legal Appeal Challenges Civil No-Fault Divorce
Ohio Woman Seeks Reform of US Divorce Law