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LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - After five decades of legality, so-called no-fault divorce — in which the dissolution of a marriage does not require the showing of wrongdoing by either party — is being challenged in court.
On Sept. 3, 2020, Attorney Bob Sullivan will appear on behalf of his client before the Nebraska Supreme Court to discuss the appeal he made against a no-fault divorce order from a county judge.
The appeal brief says the Nebraska statute is unconstitutional and that the court made multiple errors, including denying the husband's motion to dismiss the case.
Bai Macfarlane of Mary's Advocates, a nonprofit working to reduce unilateral, no-fault divorce on behalf of those who are unjustly abandoned, posted on Twitter a live video that Mike, the estranged husband, took when he returned home one December night, 2019.
"No-fault divorce is absolutely evil," said Mike, as he met an eviction notice taped to his front door when returning home. He reads it to himself. "[The notice] basically says I've been kicked out of my own house."
Then his wife opens the door and with a stern voice threatens to call the police on him for trespassing. He only wanted a few of his belongings.
"Can you believe this? Two cop cars [coming]," Mike said. "I'm evicted from my home. I'm peaceably here trying get some toiletries and some personal items so I can sleep someplace other than my home of 28 years," he lamented.
Then a police officer showed up to escort him off his own property, per order of a judge. Mike explained to the officer the injustice of what is going on.
"I'm a pretty strong Catholic and I don't believe in divorce at all," Mike told the officer. "I can't cooperate with the divorce itself. Had I followed the orders and took off and left, it would have probably shown that I was cooperating with the divorce."
The officer did not acknowledge what Mike said, but ordered him to immediately leave his own property. As Macfarlane says, Mike was never accused of abuse or adultery; the judge just found the marriage to be "irretrievably broken."
Mike's wife, who filed for the no-fault divorce, was granted sole ownership of the marital home, and he was ordered to pay all his wife's attorney fees.
"No-fault divorce violates the defendant's constitutional right to due process and equal protection under the law," said Sullivan, Mike's attorney. And, according to Mike's Catholic faith, it attempts to tear apart what God has joined together (Matthew 19:6).
The first modern, no-fault divorce law was enacted in Russia in December 1917, following the October Bolshevik Revolution that ushered in Soviet communism. California was the first U.S. state to adopt no-fault divorce laws in 1969, and all states gradually followed. Australia followed in 1975 and Canada in 1986.
Easy divorce laws did not occur in a moral vacuum. Observers note that America's skyrocketing divorce rates immediately followed the cultural acceptance of contraception shortly after Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) legalized use of the birth control pill.
Christian social scientists have seen widespread use of contraception taking sex outside of its exclusive relationship to marriage, and Pope St. John Paul II noted that it creates a wedge between spouses by lying with one's body. The marital act inherently says "I give my whole self to you without reservation," he taught; but contraception holds back life-giving love, devolving the act of union to one of self-gratification.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) calls divorce "a grave offense against the natural law" (CCC 2384) that "introduces disorder into the family and into society" (CCC 2385). No-fault divorce hastens the process whereby sexual and other sins become permanent injustice.