Mary’s Advocates is inviting lawyers, researches, and divorce defendants to critique and copy a sample motion (HERE) asking a judge to say, “case dismissed,” to the spouse wanting divorce. The motion (document) attempts to persuade the judge that unilateral no-fault divorce is unconstitutional for those with Roman Catholic marriages in Pennsylvania. Anyone could rework the document, titled “Motion for Summary Judgement to Dismiss Divorce Action for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction Due to Unconstitutionality,” so it would be suitable for submission to another state.
Unilateral no-fault divorce has been practiced by lawyers for nearly 50 years and we have two generations of adult children of divorce who know whether unilateral no-fault divorce is a good idea. With no-fault divorce, those who manage the split of the family, make no distinction between the party who is reneging on the marriage promises and the party who is counting on those promises to be upheld. Try to imagine what would happen to the transportation system if the courts made no distinction between a leased car and a purchased car; car dealers could invoke the purported power of the court to take the car you bought out of your driveway, because the car dealer felt like reneging on the purchase contract.
There is a growing movement of self-studied researchers who have found why unilateral no-fault divorce is illegal. Just because a civil court judge does something, does not make it legal. Just because a group of legislators do something, that doesn’t make it legal. The state legislators are our servants and their power is limited by both the US constitution and the states’ constitutions.
The template document is designed to raise questions of law that a Pennsylvania divorce judge should answer:
Whether the statutory provision, “Every religious society, religious institution or religious organization in this Commonwealth may join persons together in marriage when at least one of the persons is a member of the society, institution or organization, according to the rules and customs of the society, institution or organization,” 23 Pa. C.S. § 1503(b), means that those who solemnized their marriages in the Roman Catholic Rite of Catholic Marriage, or Order of Celebrating Matrimony are understood to have contracted marriage according to the rules and customs of the Roman Catholic Church.
Whether denying parties and clergymen a marriage licenses unless they agree to contract marriages that includes the exit-plan-option of unilateral no-fault divorce, 23 Pa. C.S. § 3301(d), is an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to marriage and religious freedom, and unconstitutional impairment of obligations of contract.
Whether a court’s determinations for property split, spousal support, alimony pendent lite, and alimony are an unconstitutional violation of the neutral principles of law because the Church Law Body has competence to determine the parties’ obligations toward each other resultant from their Roman Catholic marriage to which the parties contracted.
Pennsylvania counties’ websites show readers where to find free template petitions asking a judge to grant a no-fault divorce (e.g. Philadelphia and Allegheny). Mary’s Advocates is publishing a draft of a free template petition/motion asking a judge to dismiss a divorce case. The template petition will be revised in coming weeks based on readers’ suggestions.
Divorce defendants are told “there is nothing you can do to stop a divorce” and this mantra has been repeated by divorce lawyers who take thousands and thousands of dollars from families and force children to go back and forth between two different households against their will. The Wall Street Journal reported an average cost of $78,000 per case per party is paid to lawyers in a litigated divorce. It only takes one marital abandoner to get the divorce machinations started. Those in the business of facilitating divorce have a vested interest in making sure the system rewards the person filing for divorce with property, support, and child custody. If the system expected the person reneging on marriage promises to repair the damage they caused, the lawyers would lose customers.
For those who fear that too much money is being made by the lawyers and government employees for them to ever let anyone interfere with their profiteering, Saint Pope John Paul can be an inspiration. He encourages us to think and work beyond the confines of what is possible.
George Weigel, Saint Pope John Paul’s biographer, explains that the chief lesson of hope from JPII is to not let ourselves be limited by the “tyranny of the possible":
“Let’s not let ourselves be paralyzed by what I’ve come to call the 'tyranny of the possible': the notion that some things just are, period, and there’s nothing we can do about them. That’s what people were saying in October 1978, when John Paul II was elected, about the permanence of the Berlin Wall, the inability of the Catholic Church to reach young people, and the incompatibility of Catholic doctrine with modern intellectual life. John Paul II refused to accept any of those “givens,” and because of that he was able, with hard shrewd work and great insight, to refute them (Weigel interview HERE).
Putting a dent in unilateral no-fault divorce may seem impossible, but that doesn’t stop the friends of Mary’s Advocates. Anyone interested in receiving Word-version of document asking a divorce judge to say, “case dismissed,” is invited to send request to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spero columnist Bai Macfarlane is the founder of Mary's Advocates.