Category Archives: Equal Protection

Knickers (and Facts) in A Twist over Repeal of Texlahoma “No-Fault”

TheDunlapsby Standerinfamilycourt

It has been an exciting spring legislative session in the southwest this year, as young lawmakers in Texas and Oklahoma have introduced common-sense bills curbing non-consenting unilateral divorce, and as both bills have recently made it out of their committees fairly intact.    The liberal press has been shrieking and howling its disapproval, especially in Oklahoma, where the measure also ends the perverse economic incentives from unilateral divorce by restoring stiff marital fault penalties to property division.

As is so typical of liberal grandstanding and industry lobbying, we’re hearing not of the millions of fathers whose fundamental right to protect and raise their children is being severed though they’ve done nothing objectively wrong,  nor of the adulterers sailing off with the unconscionable award of the innocent spouse’s retirement funds after a decades-long union which is suddenly deemed “irretrievable” by the court.   Instead we are hearing about the classic “abused poor woman” who will now find it harder to get a divorce because she might now have to actually prove the abuse with (gasp) evidence thereof.    As one of the expert witnesses giving testimony in Texas accurately pointed out to committee members on March 8, lawmakers cannot legislate to the extreme case (13:00),  as the liberals would like, but must do what’s best for society as a whole.

Rep. Travis Dunlap is a young lawmaker from Bartlesville, OK who was elected to the state house from his trade as a piano tuner.    Though he does not have the constitutional law background that his Texas counterpart has, he probably drafted the more effective of the two pieces of legislation in actually rolling back the abusive “no-fault” regime.    According to media accounts,  the original HB1277 drafted by Dunlap made it impossible for a court in Oklahoma to grant a divorce for “incompatibility” (the equivalent of “irreconcilable differences”) if the couple met one of three criteria:

– married for more than 10 years, or
– had a living child under age 18, or
–  a partner involved objects to the divorce.

A committee modification allows petitioners who fall into one of those categories to have a divorce granted by the court for “incompatibility”, but they must first go through an educational program about the impact of divorce.   Previously, petitioners only had to do that if they had a child under age 18, and the educational program was focused on the impact of divorce on children.    While this does not seem a particularly helpful modification from the standpoint of constitutional protections,  this bill has a very important strength that the Texas bill lacks:  it restores marital fault to the property settlement that results, as follows,

  “However, where the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that one spouse caused the dissolution of marriage by committing at least one of the grounds for divorce, other than incompatibility, listed in Section 101 of this title, the court shall award only one-quarter (1/4) of the marital property to that spouse and the other spouse shall retain the remaining three-quarters (3/4) of the marital property…….

“Upon granting a decree of dissolution of marriage, annulmentof a marriage, or legal separation, where the court finds by apreponderance of the evidence that one spouse caused thedissolution, annulment or separation by committing at least one of the grounds for divorce, other than incompatibility, listed in Section 101 of this title, the court shall order that party to paythe other party’s expenses, including attorney fees.”

Perverse and unjust economic incentives play such an enormous role in the abusiveness of existing family laws,  and so drives the egregious behavior of the divorce industry “professionals” who have far more interest in shredding families than defending them, that no reform is likely to be sustainable without addressing this, as the Oklahoma bill has nicely done.    As a direct consequence, Rep. Dunlap has predictably drawn the venom of the state Bar and the unrelenting scorn of Oklahoma’s leftists in the press.    The committee vote was 7-5 on February 27, to refer the bill on for a floor vote which must occur by the May 26 end of the Oklahoma 56th legislative session.   The Senate sponsor of the bill is Sen. Josh Brecheen of Coalgate, Oklahoma.   Unlike Texas, Oklahoma does not have a strong family policy council any longer,  and videos of the committee testimony do not seem to be available.      One recent article says this, “Dunlap, who represents District 10, said he now does not expect the bill to see a vote in the House but is interested in continuing his efforts. ”     We hope and pray that Rep. Dunlap  does just that.

Rep. Matt Krause’s Texas bill was the subject of an earlier blog post.   That bill, which simply eliminates no-fault grounds where there is not a mutual-consent petition has been favorably referred by a 4-3 committee vote on April 12, and must somehow achieve a floor vote by the May 29 end of the legislative session.     This bill does not address several onerous provisions that would remain unchanged in the Texas Statute which could effectively still result in a contested dissolution being granted to an offending spouse over the moral objections of the non-offending spouse, including this provision:

Sec. 6.006. LIVING APART. The court may grant a divorce in favor of either spouse if the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years.

Often, the innocent original spouse who does not believe in marriage dissolution because of scriptures such as Matthew 19:6 and 8, Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Cor. 7:10-11 and 39,  has non-cohabitation forced on them by the offending spouse, and has little or no control over this circumstance, especially if the offending spouse is in an adulterous relationship or has a history of physical abuse of household members.    This should therefore not be left under the sole control of the offending party if unilateral divorce is to be eradicated, and constitutional protections balanced.    We should also  note that the [unchanged] “cruelty” ground  contains this phrase which still refers to “insupportability” but does not objectively or measurably define “cruel treatment” :

The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable 

(Apparently, rogue  attorneys and “abused poor women” can restore “insupportability” simply by alleging cruel treatment under sec. 6.005, which this bill still does not, for all purposes, make them actually prove under its ongoing vague definition — how novel!)

In the unlikely event that Texas HB93  achieves a floor vote by the end of the session, there’s no question that there will be some back doors left wide open to unilateral divorce, but the period of time required will be lengthened.    If it dies  in the 85th session  without being voted on, we hope it will be re-introduced next session with some of these issues further addressed.

We covered a list of practical actions Texas and Oklahoma citizens can take to support these bills in the last blog on this topic, but let’s run through a few briefly again:

(1) Call the state capitol and ask for a floor vote:
Joe Straus
Speaker of the House (Texas)
(512) 463-1000
(512) 463-0675 Fax

Charles McCall
Speaker of the House (Oklahoma)
(405) 557-7412

(2) Engage your church and pastor – ask for a few minutes to talk to the congregation about the religious freedom and due process issues with the so-called “no-fault” system and how it has led to every other kind of  immorality, from same-sex attraction to the high abortion and suicide rates.    Explain that citizen engagement is needed at the grass roots to counter the overwhelming divorce industry lobby and liberal press.   If they sent busloads of the faithful to the state capitol 2 or 3 years ago to combat gay “marriage”,  challenge them on why this isn’t every bit as weighty a matter to the church’s families.

(3) Call Texas Values and ask what they are doing to support HB93. (Unfortunately, we’re not aware of a functioning family policy council in Oklahoma at this time).

(4) Sign a petition if you get a chance.   The Ruth Institute has one for Texas that can be found here.

(5) No matter which state you call home, please take time to call and write to encourage Reps. Krause and Dunlap.     Pray for them, and let them know it.

NeverGiveUp

Divorce Reform, Repenting Prodigals and Covenant Marriage “Standers”
While there is broad agreement in the marriage permanence community that repealing unilateral divorce is best for the future of our nation, many of us have either already been unjustly divorced and seen our spouse remarry adulterously  (by biblical standards, that is – since we, their true spouse in God’s eyes, are still alive), or others of us have come to biblical conviction that we had wrongfully “married” someone else’s divorced spouse, and needed to exit that union to be right with God.    So, though meaningful reform of the unilateral family-shredding machine remains a long shot with plenty of deep-pocketed, well-connected opposition,  we should look at where such reforms leave our wandering spouses who need to exit those immoral, civil-only  unions and rebuild their covenant families.    The subsequent divorce rate is significantly higher for legalized adultery resulting from the divorce culture, and it escalates with each round of serial polygamy under easy divorce laws.    Just how hard will divorce reform make repentance from remarriage adultery under the two bills being considered ?    Here’s an analysis for each:

Oklahoma, under HB1277:   Mutual-consent petitions continue to permit no-fault grounds, but if the adulterous union produced a minor child or has lasted at least 10 years, an education class must be attended before dissolution can be granted.     It is likely that a repenting prodigal exiting the adulterous remarriage will leave 75% of the marital assets with their ex-spouse unless that spouse has committed a serious, provable offense against the marriage.     Assets can be replaced, but souls certainly cannot.    Even so, assets brought in from the “dissolved” covenant marriage (very importantly including retirement accounts) are not considered part of the marital assets of the subsequent faux marriage and would not be forfeited by decree, however the repenting spouse would also likely have to absorb all the legal costs of getting free of their legalized adultery.     Waiting period:  180 days.

Texas, under HB93:  Mutual-consent petitions permit insupportability grounds but if the subsequent spouse does not consent and the repenting prodigal separates in order to end the practice of adultery (as he / she must do regardless), then after one year the now-abandoned spouse may file a fault-based petition which will be granted upon evidence, or they may agree to a mutual-consent petition sooner, and if HB65 also passes, the waiting period will be 180 days.   Alternatively, the if the repenting spouse moves back in with their covenant spouse,  grounds of adultery are then available to the now-abandoned subsequent spouse.  If the non-covenant still declines to file a grounds-based petition, the repenting prodigal may file after 3 years of continuous separation on the basis of non-cohabitation.    Assets would be divided on the same basis as current law but this  would not include any assets brought from the prior covenant marriage.

“Standerinfamilycourt” always encourages mutual petitions rather than dragging anyone into a pagan court (1 Cor. 6:1-8)  in the process of repenting of an adulterous remarriage, as a growing number are doing these days upon learning the biblical truth on the matter.     If prayer doesn’t produce a consenting, mutual petition, repenting prodigals can always take comfort in the biblical fact that no state has dissolved the marriage of their youth in God’s eyes, nor was the subsequent “remarriage” ever considered valid in His courtroom.    They are free to resume their union without the state’s blessing and are not actually in sin if they do so.   The Lord will then sort out the legal matters in His own way.

‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate’….He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.     Matt. 19:6, 8

And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”   Matt. 12:17

(SIFC:  Would like to give a shout-out and thanks to Bai MacFarlane of Mary’s Advocates, who has established contact with Rep. Krause’s office and has provided some of the not-yet-posted details needed to complete this post.)

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Take an AUTHENTIC Stand for Marriage, Christian Right

NatMarriageWkby Standerinfamilycourt

February 7 – 14 is National Marriage Week.
During this week, there will be much going on that is vital and valuable to our nation, but there will be no getting away from the fact that in the corrupted culture of contemporary evangelicaldom, it will be “finders keepers”, and millions in faux “marriages” which are not holy matrimony, will be encouraged to stay there at the peril of their very souls.  The excellent organization, Breakpoint.org promotes it in this audio link dated January 5, 2017.

Talking about marriage “permanence” is politically acceptable to this crowd, but it will not resolve the nation’s problems because it will not touch the root issue.   Rather, the message needs to be around the far more relevant and offensive topic of holy matrimony indissolubility, according to Matt.19:6,8 and Luke 16:18. This needs to be in the heaven-or-hell terms that Jesus and Paul unflinchingly cast it.

Some crucial topics not likely to be on this year’s agenda:

– When will pastors stop performing weddings that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous (and tell the congregation why) ?

– When will pastors stop signing civil marriage licenses that reflect the only unenforceable contract in American history, and which since 1970, in no way corresponds to Christ’s Matt. 19:4-6 definition of marriage?

– When will pastors stop smearing and stigmatizing the growing stream of true disciples of Jesus Christ who are coming out of adulterous civil unions to in order to recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God? [1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mal. 5:19-21-KJV)

– When will repealing unilateral divorce in all 50 states become as high a moral priority as outlawing the slave trade, or repealing Row. v. Wade, or ending sodomous “marriages” ?

Given what Jesus and Paul both had to say about remarriage adultery (repeatedly by each), true revival when it arrives, is going to look horrifying to the organizers of National Marriage Week, but it will be pleasing to God.   The horror will not be due to the repenting prodigals, but due to five decades of false, hireling shepherds not doing the job the Owner of the fold gave them to safeguard souls first, and then covenant families.

ignatius-antioch

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

No Day in Court for (Stander) “Jane Doe” – Our Story, Part 4

 

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.

Proverbs 31

IlSupCtStatueby Standerinfamilycourt

The two-year ride through the Illinois family court system may be nearly over for Standerinfamilycourt,  several months ahead of our scheduled appeal docket date.    On December 2, 2014, the 2nd District Court of Appeals denied our appealed motion for anonymity to bring our religious freedom and equal protection challenge to Illinois’ unilateral divorce law, just as the trial judge had done back in August.     Our constitutional attorneys have confirmed that this denial cannot be appealed any higher.   This very important matter was firmly in God’s sovereign hands all along, and it was the subject of much prayer, both mine and that of our small band of supporters in this cause.    God’s people are right to obediently show up dressed for battle, but we must never lose sight that the battle belongs to the Lord, as does all choice of weapons and timing for the battle.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.      –   Micah 6:8

Why was anonymity so important?   Doesn’t the public have a “right to know”?   In this case, probably so.     A consulting firm which employs an emotionally ill man in a very responsible position,  seeks new clients who will rely on this firm’s fiduciary integrity over $ million+  long-term contracts.   That firm allowed this principal to install a girlfriend under his direct supervision, and at least two blood relatives into jobs in the firm, possibly ahead of other more qualified people.   It further allowed per diem payments for lavish trips, and short-sightedly did not care that its employment policies were not only destructive to the families of its employees, but it tolerated illegal sexual harassment discriminatory to the rest of its employees in condoning and knowingly facilitating a known boss / subordinate adulterous relationship for many years.    SIFC is an employee of the sort of client who might hire such a consulting firm, and in fact, her employer is a chief competitor of this firm’s main energy industry client.   If SIFC can simply go to Bing and type in the first and last name of this regional business director who manages very important international engagements, and bring up all the sordid facts about this firm and that consultant in a published appeals case opinion that provocatively challenged the constitutionality of a long-standing state law,  she might well advise her employer to steer clear and find an alternative vendor who manages their business with far less drama.   Such is indeed the public’s right to know, and such are the facts already captured in the trial transcripts.

That said, I love my Lord who unconditionally loves both of us as one person, and I unconditionally love my life companion of more than 40 years.   I have no desire whatsoever to be out of alignment with either of them, unless my beloved is out of alignment with his Lord.   According to God’s clear word, SIFC remains the one-flesh covenant wife of this emotionally tormented man until God’s divorce parts us (God spells divorce  “D-E-A-T-H”) .   By God’s design, nothing happens to this petitioner husband of mine that does not directly happen to the one-flesh wife of his youth, regardless of anything the civil authorities will ever have to say on the matter.   Nothing happens to us as a covenant couple that does not impact the lives of everyone close to us: extended family members on both sides of the family, employers, friends and neighbors.   Which brings us to why anonymity was important in asserting this constitutional challenge in a godly way, if that indeed remains the Lord’s assignment for this time:

  • It would cover my distraught husband’s “nakedness” while he is haplessly under Satan’s control (Genesis 9:20-23)
  • It would be merciful, allowing him an avenue to return to walking with the Lord, without immense public humiliation to live down when God’s discipline eventually catches up
  • It would be equally merciful to his adulterous and extortionist partner whom the court record reflects received massive cash payments from my husband
  • It would protect innocent family members who became ensnared in my prodigal’s elaborately sinful scheming
  • It would avoid the appearance of vengeful or materialistic motives on my part in making a name for myself which would be a poor public witness for this much larger godly cause impacting our entire state, and possibly the nation

Job #1 for any Christ-follower who has been given a covenant life partner, is to unconditionally love, to fast and to  pray that partner all the way through this life and into the Kingdom of God – period.    Every other pursuit is secondary and human divorce decrees are totally irrelevant to that mission.    We will all stand before a Holy God who will ask us,  how did you steward the gifts I gave you, including the most important one, that husband or wife with whom you were joint heirs of My Kingdom and with whom you were made by ME one-flesh during your life walk?   Since we’ve been empowered by the Holy Spirit in a way that transcends time, distance and circumstances, with a holy authority that outranks civil authority, and since all of the host of heaven is fighting on the side of defending our covenant marriages,  He is not going to accept as an alibi that some civil judge, with no Kingdom authority whatsoever over what God divinely and permanently  joined,  has somehow excused me from His assignment just by writing out a sham human dissolution order that means nothing before His throne.

 

SIFC has repeatedly found throughout this legal journey that being restoration-minded, as God’s ways require, is totally incompatible with functioning under the unilateral divorce regime, even with Christian lawyers.   Even its godliest legal practitioners cannot seem to get their heads around maintaining truly biblical behavior and motivations in this profoundly wicked realm.    The very best of them truly fear what failure to submit to the thuggish web of state-sanctioned lies will do to their clients’ cases.   In this instance, my Christian attorney and his associates felt compelled to file his motion to proceed under fictitious name claiming in that document that I feared political backlash from those who support the continuation of no-fault grounds and favor continuation of the tyrannical public policy banning marital fault as a basis in settling property and custody disputes,  rather than pleading the true family preservation reasons I have just stated.   I will always wonder whether the outcome might have been different if my attorney had simply filed his motion petition with the truth concerning my motives.   “She does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life.”    What if my Christian attorneys had had the integrity to truly speak for me with the mind of Christ in that legal motion?

 

I hope that sharing my learnings through this legal journey will help people understand more about what is keeping such an immoral and unconstitutional family law regime so deeply entrenched in our system of “justice”, and how very much the idolatry of doing so is costing us as a nation.      As time marches on, a  growing percentage of us have never known any other way!   Many presume that a law that has gone unchallenged for so long must be inherently right.    Indeed, it takes the lens of God’s word to truly appreciate all that’s wrong.  Many whose consciences tell them they should be challenging this immoral and unconstitutional singling out of a disfavored class of citizens, unfortunately fear men more than they fear God.     All of the powerful gatekeepers (judges, legislators and attorneys on both sides) are members of the legal community who economically benefit from it at the expense of all of the rest of society.    Goliath continues to taunt God’s people and there appears to be no champion in the land to ask His anointing on a stone and a slingshot to bring this giant down.    The expected champions, those national organizations who faithfully take on every other political threat to the traditional family and to every other form of religious freedom violation, quake in fear or denial on the sidelines when it comes to this particular Goliath.    Jesus rightly said we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.

If I am unable to bring my case without destroying my life partner of over 40 years, how long until God raises up another David with the same reverence for holy matrimony, sufficient finances and zeal for God’s kingdom?   Under those circumstances, I have to have faith that nobody is indispensable, and I have offered my God everything I have in this effort, except the irreplaceable soul of my covenant husband which is, and which must remain, my very first priority and responsibility.

 

“Jane Doe” was not only fighting for the integrity of her own family, but for the families and for the fundamental 14th Amendment rights of all innocent contesting Respondents as a class:  Jack , Jill and Joe Doe, in bringing a constitutional challenge to a blatantly unconstitutional law.    As the politically powerful homosexual movement demonstrated over the past year, actions need to be replicated in many (perhaps not all) states for unilateral divorce in our democratic nation to fall into the dustbin of perverse human history , where it undeniably belongs.

As individual Christ-followers, we are told we must follow Jesus in emptying ourselves of our individual “rights”.  So how does this biblical wisdom “square” with asserting legal rights in the family court system as I and some other lone-wolf believers before me have sought to do?     I think it helps to take one step back from our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and hear what these documents say about all liberty and all justice being given by God as His gift and as a purposeful privilege.   Jesus said, “to whom much has been given, much is required.”   What we think of as fundamental rights can actually be revoked if abused by selfish motives, or if left unprotected through cowardice or slothfulness (i.e. prayerlessness, thanklessness and personal moral compromise) in how we defend them.     The possibility of revocation makes these things divine privileges, more so than rights with responsibilities attached, in sharp contrast to the way most of us have become accustomed to thinking of our constitutional rights.

 

As providence would have it, the day I received the notice from the Appellate Court denying our anonymity motion,  I came home to my devotion book published by Revive Our Hearts,  Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ ministry to women, True Woman Manifesto – the chapter next up was Day 11:  Selfish Insistence on Personal Rights ( is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for me.)   This devotion further challenged:

“Have you been acting more like a temporary servant of God or like His willing and permanent slave?”    Being honest with myself, I journaled: “the idea of being a permanent slave,  unentitled to the personal fruit of my time, treasure and talent is haunting and chilling to me.  Help me, Lord!”

On the one hand, many years of experience with the Lord has shown me He never fails to restore what the enemy has stolen, and in fact heretofore has always restored it in a multiple!   That is not the issue for me.    The issue is being willing to lay down all the research, financial sacrifice, suffering and risk to my own family, to wait and pray while God accomplishes this momentous state-wide and national task His way.   The issue is continuing to have faith while being humbled and possibly obscured for now.

This devotion reflected on the writings of Elisabeth Elliot, widow of missionary Jim Elliot, both graduates of nearby Wheaton College, who was murdered with several colleagues on the mission fields in Ecuador.    Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes:

‘What are some of the rights that as Jesus’ disciples we need to be willing to surrender?   Here’s the list that Elisabeth Elliot came up with:

  • First is the right to take revenge (Romans 12:19-20).   (if not against my husband, perhaps against the judge who brutally punished me for my convictions?)
  • The right to have a comfortable, secure home. Jesus said, “The birds of the air have nests, the foxes have holes, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:57-58). The right to have a comfortable, secure home. It’s a right we surrender to Christ.
  • The right to spend our money however we please (Matthew 6:19-21).
  • The right to hate an enemy (Matthew 5:43-48). We have to surrender that right.
  • The right to be honored and served (Mark 10:42-47).
  • The right to understand God’s plan before we obey (Hebrews 11:8).
  • The right to live life by our own rules (John 14:23-24).
  • The right to hold a grudge (Colossians 3:13).
  • The right to fit into society (Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:10).
  • The right to do whatever feels good (Galatians 5:16-17; 1 Peter 4:2).
  • The right to complain. “Ooo. I can’t have the right to complain? ” No. That’s a right you’re to give up. By the way, you find that in Philippians 2, verse 14: “Do all things without complaining or murmuring.”
  • The right to put self first. That’s the passage we’ve been looking in, Philippians 2:3-4).
  • The right to express one’s sexuality in ways that are contrary to the ways of God (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
  • The right to rebel against authority (1 Peter 2:13-15).   Acceptable to do so only where there is a clear conflict with God’s law.
  • The right to sue another believer (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).

FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC was summoned into court in this instance because as a follower of Christ she refused to sign a document that affirmed the civil charge of “irreconcilable differences” even though doing so might have protected more of our family’s [in reality, God’s] assets.)

There’s more we could say about all those, but just a sample list from God’s Word of rights that we’re asked to surrender as followers of Christ.  –  Nancy Leigh DeMoss,  www.reviveourhearts.com.

Being a student of the bible, I know it is not acceptable to God to shrink back in fear from a God-appointed battle.    I also observe from the ill-fated battles of the bible that complete obedience is required in all aspects of a God-favored battle:  timing, tools, size of army, willingness to accept seemingly impossible circumstances and trust God, instead of our own resources, to overcome unfavorable circumstances and obstacles for His glory.

2 Chronicles 14:11

Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”

Though I was by now pleading with the Lord to write His instructions on my wall,  I still felt as though I was not getting any clear answer from Him whether to pursue or drop the appeal without the anonymity protection for our family.    I had (perhaps wrongly) treated this anonymity item as a Gideon-style “fleece”.    Was God spanking me for not having more spiritual maturity after 35 years of walking with Him, or was this His actual revelation according to that extended “fleece”?   I had no peace with either pursuing the appeal under our actual names for the sake of the people of our state and all that has been invested,  nor with dropping it for the sake of our family’s peace,  privacy and recovery.     So, I located a comprehensive study of all the biblical battles, their issues and outcomes, and I spent a couple of days studying it, hoping for more clarity.    To get inside the skin of another long-sacrificing soldier of Christ with a similarly monumental task of marshalling an army to change both internal church culture and government policy on a profoundly vital moral and human rights issue on which the future of nations turned – ending the African slave trade,  I dove into Eric Metaxas’ biography of William Wilberforce, called Amazing Grace.   Could some of Wilberforce’s processes be applicable to my approach to this hard decision, and more specifically, to my discipleship path in this?

One passage in this Wilberforce biography seemed jump out and grab me, standerinfamilycourt,  by the throat:

“And so he took stock of himself.  He well knew his mind’s natural tendency to be endlessly on a thousand subjects at once, to flit from this to that and to the next thing to no particular purpose — indeed, he called it his ‘butterfly mind’…..He knew that his world-class wit could turn into the vicious and wounding sarcasm, and that his ability to mimic others and joke and sing and generally be charming could be used to merely draw attention to himself, merely to exalt himself and to feed his personal and vain ambitions….Wilberforce alone knew how constitutionally weak he was with regard to self-discipline…”  

Ouch!   It’s encouraging to reflect that God with whom nothing shall be impossible still found a way to astoundingly use such an inherently flawed vessel!    When I went on to read about the elaborate and regimented tracking lists Wilberforce used to hold himself accountable for correcting these flaws,  I sincerely wonder if I could stay at it for long.    Is that the bottom-line cost of success in an endeavor so much bigger than can be handled in the natural?

In the meantime, some external events transpired that were very encouraging, making it very clear that others are forcefully carrying  this banner alongside me.    Our facebook community page, Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional has rapidly gained international followers, including a couple of like-minded U.S. state and national organizations, despite its intensely unpopular cultural message.   By the hand of God, one re-post of Dr. Albert Mohler’s  2010 blog on the hypocrisy within the church’s official position on divorce and remarriage which sharply conflicts with what Jesus taught, was directed into the strategic hands of some seminary theologians and a group of Catholics who care about this subject.    It has been re-shared 21 times in 5 days as I write this, and has had over 8,000 views, with dozens of thoughtful debate comments by important people that seemed to take on a life of its own.    Other posts are also getting large audiences and great feedback very suddenly.   I made personal connection with no-fault opposition pioneer Judith Brumbaugh, who has extended us the honor of her helpful background guidance for which we are so grateful.    Perhaps most significantly, standers from all over are beginning to message our page for prayer and guidance.

With all the praise and the thanks to God, the Illinois legislative session miraculously adjourned without passing the deplorable bill HB1452, or the ERA (equal rights amendment) bill.    Both would have been monumental threats to Illinois families.     Many prayers went up across the state for their defeat, and God was faithful.

Last month, the Catholic-leaning religious magazine First Things started an excellent debate on whether pastors should continue to sign off on civil marriage certificates, or should force a godly separation between God-joined biblical unions and the world’s severely-devalued civil constructions brought on by nearly 5 decades of destructive redefinition.    Additionally, they published the excellent article, Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce, by Drs. Thomas F.  Farr and Hilary Towers.   The article very significantly validated what the national religious freedom legal organizations are so reluctant to acknowledge:   that divorce Respondents do suffer genuine religious persecution in the family court system, (as all perceived opponents of the sexual revolution do).   Perhaps it’s this group of Catholics through whom our post was circulated so wildly beyond our expectations this past week.   Did some influential people get a good look at our pages and think concretely about a potential alliance?   It is very comforting at a time like this and on the cusp of such a pivotal personal choice that I have to make to see God’s hand and some strong evidence that all of this is part of a larger move of God in which I may not have to be a very significant player nor the lone voice in the wilderness.    May God give me the mix of humility and ambition that is most appropriate here, since I’ve lost all hope of a “cloak”,  and only He can see the larger picture ahead.     May He direct my thoughts and my steps!

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court is reportedly going to decide whether to hear arguments in cases that upheld state constitutions in their voter-approved traditional marriage definitions coming out of the 6th Circuit which conflict with rulings in several other Federal Circuits around the country.   Some of those rulings and cases assert the fundamental right to remain married.      What  is the sustainability of unilateral divorce if the Supreme Court affirms the fundamental right to maintain civil marriage intact?     SIFC was on the Washington Mall with 10,000 other traditional marriage supporters on the chilly day in March, 2013 when the first round of marriage definition arguments were heard during the March for Marriage sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage.    No doubt there will be a similar rally organized in 2015 on the date of these new arguments.   The speeches SIFC heard that day from inner city pastors and the young adult children of divorce galvanized this stander’s resolve that unilateral divorce must be abolished.    SIFC is likely to be there again.

 

Yesterday I mailed off to the attorneys an envelope containing the case history and analysis I researched on prior constitutional challenges to no-fault divorce laws in various states since 1970,  and a glossary of legal concepts that have been impacted by very recent cases.    After much prayer I’ve come to the place where I will not feel any peace about dropping the appeal until my Christian attorneys have reviewed this work and also sought God’s direction specifically concerning the 14th Amendment equal protection and due process aspects of the case.      If our attorneys are willing, I will find the funding somehow for this round of the appeal, but if we win that, God will have to step in and provide the finances to go up against the deep state pockets we would then be facing.    If they discourage me from this aspect of the case, and I can’t find a suitable legal team,  it is unlikely I’m going to be comfortable putting my family through any further litigation rigors.    Prayer warriors reading this post, SIFC would be so grateful if you would pray for our family and our two law firms.

 

Even with dropping the appeal, the Lord will have other, slower avenues to work toward the goal of ending the tyranny in the family court system.    I am confident He is about to raise up further opportunities for challenge across the country.   Important alliances are being formed in the background, and I see SIFC’s pages as a linkage between people and needed resources in the future.    I see these pages as a continuing resource for committed Christ-followers in having the difficult conversations within their churches and denominations to begin to change the culture much the way the abolitionists slowly changed the culture in Wilberforce’s time.    Perhaps with the social media resources we now have and the Lord’s end times timeline, the process will be much more rapid.    We’ve seen the meteoric speed with which evil social change can sweep the nation in the past 5 years.    Yet the word of God says “greater is He that is in us, than he who is in the world.”

Until the hearts of the leadership of the state family policy councils and of the Christian public service legal funds change to embrace our cause legislatively and judicially,  I have a vision for starting a fund that will help people in other states in the appeal stage who have been bullied for their convictions by the family court system.       I don’t have any idea how I’m going to accomplish this just yet, but I know Who must be the Provider.     While we probably can’t afford to fund primary divorce challenges, there are some legal aid groups who may be able to fill that role, and perhaps knowing such resources may be available at the appeal stage may encourage individuals to do as I’ve done in challenging the “irreconcilable differences” civil charge in order to gain standing to bring a 14th Amendment constitutional appeal in other states.    Perhaps the presence of an appeal fund may reform the egregious behavior of the legal community including the bench.

 

Meanwhile, I challenge the state family policy councils, and indeed the many Christian denominations at headquarters level – what are you willing to do to be a godly voice on the  offensive in changing these laws?    Will you trust God enough to risk offending some donors or losing some members ?    When your next meeting comes to debate the cultural “relevance”  of your official position statements on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, will you honor God and move back toward scriptural purity and eternal relevance?

I challenge the religious liberty legal funds whose mission statements all say they defend the “traditional family”:  same sex marriage is going to be a waning issue by next year, and there are credible reports that some of you are already feeling it in reduced coffers.    Honor the One you should  be looking to for those coffers, as well as for the tide to turn in court.    Why not look to help the millions who would be only too willing to send in their $50 in exchange for your pledge of solid commitment to this cause, rather than appeasing larger donors out of an unexamined and untested fear that they may be offended because their lifestyles may be biblically immoral.     Soon enough, everyone is going to see the obvious and unavoidable connection between unilateral divorce and same sex marriage.

 

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.  – Ps. 90:17

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall – Part 1

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall- Part 2

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall- Part 3

 

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

You Asked: How Can “No-Fault” Divorce Laws be Unconstitutional?

constitution-burningReagan

by Standerinfamilycourt.com

This post goes out to Barney, who raised a very valid question last weekend on our companion facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/nofaultequalsnoaccountability/posts/1527839317455483

Considering the current reach of our fairly new page, there must be dozens of critical thinkers like Barney out there with the same question.    SIFC is thankful for the question and the engagement,  an opportunity to contribute some expanded thought.    All great social reform conversations began exactly this way, and we of course could have just as easily been ignored, so Barney (and his silent counterparts) are sincerely a blessing.    Our legal team will, no doubt,  get the very same question from the bench next spring.     Indeed, I can quote a recent definition-of-marriage judicial  assertion very much to the point from Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the (liberal) 9th U.S. Circuit:

“If the defendants [states of Idaho and Nevada] really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had married parents, they would do well to rescind the right of no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether.   Neither has done so.  Such reforms might face constitutional difficulties  of their own, but at least they would further the states’ asserted interest in solidifying marriage.”      

Latta v Otter,  October 7, 2014

Judge Reinhardt, we’ll notice,  stopped well short of saying that such reforms would be unconstitutional.    As the spate of 5-4  Supreme Court decisions clearly demonstrate in cases where the competing fundamental rights of the opposing parties are actually valid on both sides, these competing rights must be prioritized and  must be carefully balanced.   Brilliant legal minds can honestly disagree on the appropriate balance of fundamental rights based on their particular world view, and hopefully they are not wasting taxpayer dollars by accusing one another of misunderstanding the Constitution.

In this blog, we could paste in links to various cases, but we’ve actually done so in several earlier posts, and will be doing so in the very next planned weekly post on relevant legal definitions, so for brevity we won’t do so here.   We’ll come back later and make appropriate linkages.

The basic rule is that a law is presumed to be constitutional if it is aimed a legitimate state purpose (however ineffectively).    That is, it is deemed constitutional unless it intrinsically, or by its means of implementation, it deprives a citizen or class of citizens of one or more fundamental rights.    In one recent example, various U.S. Circuit Courts have ruled that homosexual couples legally married in one state have a fundamental right to stay married if they move to another state:

JudgeSutton

What are some other fundamental rights?    They are basically anything in the Bill of Rights, or that an authoritative ruling has established as a binding precedent: (free exercise of religion, life, defense of property,  family privacy, parental rights in the education and direction of their children, the equal right to bring a defense against a criminal or civil accusation that would strip life, liberty or property, etc.).

If it’s established that a citizen’s fundamental right is being infringed by a state law, then it is no longer good enough just to have a legitimate state purpose behind it.    In that case, the state must prove two additional things for the law to still be deemed constitutional:   (1) that the state interest is compelling, AND (2) they are implementing it by choosing among available alternatives only the means that least infringes or deprives citizens of that fundamental right.   The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that the 14th  Amendment requires this.   Meeting both the compelling interest and the least restrictive means tests becomes very difficult for the state where there are indeed fundamental rights being intruded upon!

And how should valid but competing fundamental rights be balanced?   For example, in late term abortions, shouldn’t a 7-month pre-born child’s right to life be prioritized over the mother’s asserted  right to privacy?   Does the state truly have a compelling interest in guaranteeing the mother’s right to privacy under the 14th Amendment, to the extent that it actually supercedes another person’s right to life?

How should someone’s fundamental right to liberty and freedom of association be balanced against their innocent spouse’s right to protection of property, to defend against a civil accusation (as “irreconcilable differences” most surely is) that would strip their freedom of association (with children) or strip their property (such as their retirement funds while the other spouse has committed financial abuse in pursuing an affair)?

Many states do not allow marital fault to be considered in either dividing property or determining child custody.   What is the state’s compelling reason for this, given that a dozen or so states do take marital fault into consideration for these purposes, and given that not doing so sets an offending spouse up to actually profit from their own destructive acts against the marriage?   In fact there may be some legitimate state reasons for this,  but this surely does not offset a non-offending spouse’s fundamental right to due process over their property and parental rights!   In practice, some states may only allow the defrauded spouse to prove any financial abuse in court if they agree with the state and their petitioning spouse that a marriage is “irreconcilable”,  which may conflict with their biblical convictions, and conflict with any right a few states still give to bring evidence that irreconcilable differences do not actually exist (as in the case of an emotionally ill spouse who in reality needs treatment more than they truthfully need a divorce).   What about a discarded spouse’s right of conscience, guaranteed by the 1st Amendment and by most state constitutions, to act according to their biblical conviction if they believe and obey the truly startling and radical words of Jesus (Luke 16:18):

 Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”    

The state may have a legitimate reason for seeking to provide a low-cost exit from a marriage, but since all 50 states’ current no-fault laws infringe on the fundamental constitutional rights to stay married, and to family privacy and self-governance for both spouses and any children, what’s the compelling state reason for not having minimum requirements and evidence of professional counseling before accepting only one spouse’s opinion concluding that “all efforts to reconcile have failed”, or that “future efforts to reconcile would not be in the best interests of the family”?   What’s the compelling state interest in not considering other impacted family members’ views on their best interests?   What’s the compelling state interest in facilitating and sanctioning adultery in preference to the existing low-conflict marriage, or in shielding the offending party from incurring meaningful natural financial consequences of divorcing for selfish reasons?    Given the vast amount of damning evidence on the cost of unilateral divorce to state and local governments (hence, taxpayers) over the past 45 years, isn’t the compelling state interest actually in the opposite direction?

It’s also instructive to look at what marriage has become under the no-fault regime.   Unilateral divorce was supposed to “reduce acrimony” (although stripping all of the fundamental rights of one spouse to give blatant legal preference to the other makes it seem like the framers were smoking something),  it was supposed to “protect the children from harm in watching their parents deal with conflict” (never mind the tenfold physical and emotional abuse that is typically in store for the kids at the hands of the live-in boyfriend or girlfriend that has replaced the legitimate mother or father).    When individual sexual autonomy started to trump the compelling interests of society and the extended family as a whole, the meaning of government’s role in protecting marriage profoundly shifted.   Another recent ruling on a gay marriage case stated this point brilliantly, in SIFC’s estimation:

“One starts from the premise that governments got into the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex…..one can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them.   One way to pursue this objective is to encourage couples to enter lasting relationships through subsidies and other benefits and to discourage them from ending such relationships through these and other means.     People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex.   And they may not need the government’s encouragement to propagate the species.  But they may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.”

DeBoer v Snyder,   November 6, 2014

Judge Jeffrey Sutton,  U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Unilateral divorce laws intrude into the integrity of the family in a tyrannical attempt to regulate mere affection.   Or, as Texas attorney Ed Truncellito describes our post-1970’s stripped-down version of matrimony in  his blog  “Why No One Is Married“:

In truth, our no-fault laws, as implemented, abolished true marriage…….Although cohabitation is handicapped in many ways, it unfortunately has one important advantage: ordinary cohabitation keeps government out of the home.    In contrast, the registered cohabitation that we still call “marriage” invokes the jurisdiction of government officers. They receive authority to manage the lives of both spouses and their children with legal force. ”  

 

So given all this, what would a constitutional no-fault law look like?

(1) Irreconcilable differences as a non evidence-based ground for divorce would be available only by mutual or cross petition — with fully agreed child and property terms, otherwise it would revert to fault-based procedure to protect the due process rights of the non-offending spouse who for moral or religious reasons does not want to end the marriage.

(What we currently have, while deceitfully called “no-fault”,  is actually forced, unilateral, guaranteed divorce that excuses and often rewards destructive behavior toward the marriage).

(2) Proof and balanced consideration of marital fault would be restored in all contested cases where property and child custody matters could not be agreed between the spouses, and would be done without intrusive and non evidence-based court assessments of when the marriage allegedly broke down.   Proof of dissipation and marital fault would be merged and would simply follow the full proven time frame(s) of the offense(s).

(3) Contested, non-mutual out-of-state and offshore divorce decrees where the grounds and agreed settlement terms do not conform with (1) above will not be honored against assets and child arrangements domiciled in the state, and in-state marital fault proceedings will be required to effect those divisions.

(4) Equal evidence parameters and time frames to bring proof of fault would be restored to both spouses by abolishing court rules and operating procedures which are currently designed to suppress evidence of fault in order to give preference to the Petitioner over the Respondent.

Will these reforms force people to stay married against their wills?   That’s an interesting question since studies show that 80% of spouses in this country are divorced against their will.    It’s also an interesting question because additional studies show a high rate of remarriage to the same first spouse after civil divorce  and even after subsequent remarriage(s).   Other studies show a 60-70% divorce rate for second and subsequent remarriages, and a 97% failure rate for any relationship begun in adultery (this may include cohabitation and marriage combined).     In practice, these reforms will more likely just even out the power balance between spouses in resolving their differences, possibly increasing the percentage of mutual petitions if honest reconciliation efforts fail.   It will certainly make non-mutual divorces more expensive in some cases.    In a rare few cases, people unhappily married to a non-offending religious objector to divorce may not be able to obtain an in-state divorce because they can’t prove serious fault where none exists.   Under the Fourteenth Amendment, that’s as it should be.

Parting wisdom from Jesus:   “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning……”

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”    – Matthew 19:10

 

Indeed.   One may freely choose their behavior,  but they should not get to also choose the consequences.

 

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt. com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why No One Is Married

FB profile 7xtjw Standerinfamilycourt Blog Commentary:  Mr. Truncellito is the Texas attorney written about in the book “Stolen Vows” by Judy Parejko.   Mr. Truncellito’s research into the Texas statute after unilateral divorce was enacted exposed a fraud, but to no avail.   The original enactment of the Texas “no-fault” law was to be by mutual consent only.   However, the legal community conspired to implement it as unilateral divorce.  Mr. Truncellito appealed his case up through the Texas Supreme Court based on his investigation, but failed to win relief for the people of Texas, with the final determination entered in November, 2000.

 

Ed Truncellito, J.D., September 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marriage today is no more than “registered cohabitation” because no-fault divorce was misinterpreted as “no cause and no proof” divorce. If you can divorce without true cause–then you were not truly married in the first place. You were merely cohabiting, as in ages past, regardless what name it’s called.

You could always walk away from a disagreeable cohabitation, but marriage was defined in its protection by law. You couldn’t get out of a marriage just because you wanted out. You had to have true cause: abuse, adultery, abandonment, or the like. And not only cause, but genuine proof of it.

When the well-meaning no-faulters tried to take adversarialism out of the divorce process, to make it friendly, it failed. The door swung wide open to “no cause and no proof” divorce. Meanwhile, adversarialism went right back into the property and custody battles.

The old “fault” laws needed overhaul to bring spousal equality, and to make the system friendlier, but no-fault’s “no cause and no proof” divorce, administered by warring lawyers, was the wrong implementation. The law should have required that spouses be taught how, and helped, to settle differences as co-equals, to deliberate justly and fairly, with self-control, while honoring their partner and the vows they made for a permanent union.

Beforehand, almost any man could rule his wife and settle disputes by physical force. But spousal equality demands at least a little education, a working knowledge of civilized diplomacy and reasoned compromise — for both genders.

The no-fault laws did not train the partners to solve any problems. The laws simply — and grievously — empowered the courts to settle all their disputes for them, in one grand sweep, by divorce, no matter how whimsical or trivial the disagreement. No-fault did not elevate the status of wives as co-equal family managers. It lowered the status of both spouses, while it elevated the courts as the new, and not-so-charitable, family managers.

The no-fault divorce system, as implemented, funded divorce. It channeled money from troubled families to divorce lawyers, now at hourly rates in three digits, in exchange for dividing children and property. The court’s officers were hired and paid to terminate marriages, not to save them.

The no-fault legal system, as envisioned, was to be a family hospital, to comfort the hurting spouses and bandage the wounded marriages. Instead, it became a family morgue. It promised to give relief from the former hostilities of the “fault” legal system, but it became more hostile than ever.

Reconciliation dollars, facilities, and assistance were promised, but they never materialized. A generation and a half later, we know that the experiment did not work as planned.

In truth, our no-fault laws, as implemented, abolished true marriage. After many years of no-fault, we no longer even respect the solemn covenants that partners make between themselves and God. Instead, we respect the solemn covenants that lawyers make between themselves and a judge.

Although cohabitation is handicapped in many ways, it unfortunately has one important advantage: ordinary cohabitation keeps government out of the home. In contrast, the registered cohabitation that we still call marriage invokes the jurisdiction of government officers. They receive authority to manage the lives of both spouses and their children with legal force.

No wonder people cohabit. No wonder we have so many broken homes. Partners can walk away from the slightest inconvenience, at any time, with court assistance. They don’t ever have to conciliate, or swallow their pride and say they are sorry, or try to please anyone but themselves.

When divorce was made into a guaranteed certainty, it became an easy way out of hard times. Partners knew they would no longer be pressed by embarrassing questions about covenants and faithfulness, as they moved on to their next cohabitation. Nor could they be stopped.

The fundamental attribute, the unique defining characteristic, the earmark, that always distinguished true marriage from cohabitation, is legal security — protection by law — protection by divorce law.

Today, that protection is gone. Genuine proof of true cause was always required for divorce, and anything else — but that — should have changed in an overhaul of divorce law.

It is one thing to let spouses decide, without intrusion, for their own private reasons, whether to live together, or to live apart indefinitely. But it is another thing altogether, for government not to question the cause, when government has already intervened, when government is asked to destroy a marriage, totally and permanently.

The legal security of true marriage cannot be a chain. But neither can it be a thread. It must be a sturdy fabric, a flexible but tough canvas, to weather the gales of life.

That’s why true marriage is so secure and stable for mates. When spouses cannot easily shake off their yoke, they soften it by mutual accommodation. In other words: spouses don’t stay together because they get along; they get along because they stay together.

And that’s why true marriage is so secure and stable for children. True marriage is underwritten by law. Children can rest assured that no passing storm will carry either of their parents away. They know that the whole force of government stands as a benevolent guard to protect their homes and both of their providers.

We are not in the midst of a divorce crisis. It is a marriage crisis.

No one is married, and no one can marry. The right to marry was taken away.

The happy voices of the bride and the bridegroom are gone from our land.

Attorney Ed Truncellito spent over 1,500 hours researching the legislation that created “no-fault” divorce in Texas in 1969. He found that the law was meant only to apply to uncontested divorces. He has filed suit against the State Bar of Texas, alleging that they, like the tobacco industry, covered up what they knew to be a destructive product, and that the State Bar knew all along that the no-fault law was being misapplied but covered it up for financial gain. See Mr. Truncellito’s website at www.no-one-is-married.com. His email address is no_one_is_married@juno.com (use underscores).

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

BUCKING “NO-FAULT” DIVORCE: CONSTITUTIONAL CASE HISTORY IN THE U.S. 1970-Present – Part 2

IlSupCtBg

by  Standerinfamilycourt

Part 2 – 2000 – 2014    (Part 1 – 1970-1999)

 

       Pharisees:  “Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”

But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?  Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.   And He said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this?”  They  said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them,  “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:17-21

 

Blogger’s Note:   the discussion that follows reflects only my own research and independent thought, and does not necessarily reflect the advice of my attorneys.

God said let Us make mankind in Our image.   He created marriage to bear the image of the Godhead, the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, including its permenance.   Marriage, therefore, cannot bear “Caesar’s”  image and cannot “belong” to the State.   Everything the God of Angel Armies said about marriage is contrary to everything the State now decrees, to devalue marriage and distort its true purpose.

 

 

Standerinfamilycourt  began Part 1 of this post by relating the story of the train ride downtown with my divorce attorney to consult for the first time with the constitutional law attorneys whom we hoped would agree to take our religious freedom case.   We had just received notice and copy of a response motion by opposing counsel in the property division trial, and we were going over it in the hour it took the train to reach downtown Chicago.   According to my attorney, this opposing document  was filed rather superfluously, in response to a motion we had filed as a formality to reserve our right to bring our anticipated constitutional appeal.   I was stunned to see the following assertion in that document, though perhaps it didn’t shock my attorney:

“…Petitioner affirmatively states that by the Respondent’s logic, one could use their religious convictions to delay or defeat or enhance any law, just by arguing religion.   The Courts have reaffirmed the traditional doctrine that marriage is a civil contract between three parties: the husband, the wife, and the State.   If the parties were allowed to use religious arguments or feelings to obviate, obfuscate, or obliterate the provisions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, then the entire system would fall to the whims or beliefs of 11 million people.” 

(Obviously, there’s at least one liberally-minded attorney who needs to crack out her copy of Illinois’  very brief Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or her Bible – preferably, both!    I’d love to know which state my covenant husband and I  were supposedly “wed” to,  since we don’t originally hail from Illinois, and we were married by our pastor in a state that didn’t adopt unilateral divorce until 2010.      – And, since there’s an Omnipotent Creator Authority and Righteous Judge in heaven to whom marriage sovereignly does belong,  may the entire system indeed fall! )

A couple of religious freedom cases follow from Texas and Ohio, and an oddball Tennessee case from 2014 where some folks, who weren’t married in God’s (or that state’s) eyes to begin with, were clamoring for a divorce.

 

7.  Truncellito v Truncellito, Texas (2000)     Sup  Ct of TX 00-826

Texas is a very colorful state in which to study this topic of history.   Many states saw the enormous flaws and inequities in UMDA, and legislators were understandably reluctant to enact it verbatim.   In addition to rejecting the standard “irreconcilable differences” language, the Texas legislature also rejected the notion that the “no-fault” process was appropriate where one of the spouses (with clean hands) did not want to end the marriage.  In other words, they voted to maintain the balance of fundamental rights to liberty, property and autonomy of family life free from court intrusion, by not allowing the courts to apply “no-fault” unless the petition was mutual or uncontested.

Herein lies the unexamined difference between unilateral (involuntary or forced) and “no-fault” (mutual and voluntary).   Using the latter interchangeably with the former and comparing the result to a car insurance policy is intellectually dishonest.   This is another one of those false analogies so prevalent in immoral social movements and their resulting legislation.

The Texas no-fault grounds language reads: “On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”

Mr. Truncellito was a divorce attorney who was the Respondent in his wife’s 1998 unilateral petition.   Mr. Truncellito was representing a client,  another contesting Respondent husband, when he discovered that the transcribed statute did not match the enacted statute which expressly provided for “no-fault” grounds only in non-contested cases, otherwise, the requirement for fault-based grounds still applied.

Truncellito brought an appeal of his own divorce decree on that technical basis, which was overruled in the appellate court, and that decision was affirmed by the Texas Supreme Court.

FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC  Commentary:  In her book, “Stolen Vows” and in subsequent published articles, author Judy Parejko commented on the strong economic interests in the Texas legal community in ensuring there was strict unilateral application of the “no-fault” law, rather than the voluntary application the legislature intended.   Surrounded by states with strict unilateral divorce laws, there was an economic fear that clients would be lost to out-of-state divorce travel.  The situation is totally opposite today, with Texas attorneys actively advertising to poach clients from states who are re-thinking unilateral divorce.)

 

8.  Waite v Waite, Texas (2001)     C.A. 14th District, Houston

As noted above, the Texas no-fault grounds language reads: “On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”

The constitutional challenge brought by the Respondent husband was a 1st Amendment Establishment Clause challenge alleging that the language and definitions in the statute are intrinsically religious and therefore entangle the court in areas where they should not be making inquiry.   Further, the challenge asserted that unilateral establishment of grounds violates the Free Exercise clause by requiring the court to interfere in a religious dispute, contending that the terms “legitimate ends of the marriage” and “reasonable expectation of reconciliation” have an unavoidable religious dimension.

There were additional challenges that were based on unique clauses in portions of the Texas constitution which are not analogous to other states or to the U.S. Constitution.   One of these challenges implied a due process complaint, but did not reference the 14th amendment.   The appeal also asserted that the “no-fault” proceedings violated the privacy of documents. These were all overruled, except for the privacy issue which the court said was not ripe for review because it was unclear which documents had been produced.

(There was no challenge brought in this case that the statute limited the “no-fault” proceedings to uncontested cases.   The Truncellito challenge had been dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court the year before, on November 22, 2000.)

The court applied rational basis review and held that it was bound to presume constitutionality upon the enacted law, disagreeing that a civil determination of the specific terms in the grounds required religious inquiry.

 

Highlights of Dissenting Opinion:   The dissenting judge concluded that because Texas courts have recognized marriage as having a religious component, the term “legitimate ends of the marital relationship” cannot be construed to exclude that religious aspect.   He went on to say that since the Respondent raised a “rights of conscience” issue.  The RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) test should have been applied and the state been required to establish a compelling need for the language in question, and shown that they had undertaken the least restrictive means of meeting that interest.   He concurred with the state’s authority to enact a “no-fault” law (as possibly contrasted with a unilateral law), but the state had to do so while complying with the First Amendment.

Per the 2-judge majority:

Although courts may observe as a factual matter that some individuals have religious beliefs concerning their marriages, and although courts are bound to protect every individual’s rights to have such beliefs, courts certainly could not make, and have not made, any legal decision regarding whether marriage has a religious component because that is neither a legal issue nor a matter that courts may constitutionally decide, contrary to the dissent’s numerous references to marriage as “a relationship that Texas case law recognizes as religious in nature,” to marriage as being characterized by our state courts as a divine institution ordained by God, to “a wealth of Texas jurisprudence characterizing ․ marriage as having a religious component,” and the like.

The Dissent:

Because the court rejects Mr. Waite’s state constitutional challenge under the “rights of conscience” guaranty of Article I, Section 6, I respectfully dissent.  See Davenport v. Garcia, 834 S.W.2d 4, 11 (Tex.1992).   The court should not reach Mr. Waite’s challenges under the United States Constitution because the statute violates the Texas Constitution.  I concur in the court’s disposition of both Mr. Waite’s challenges to the award of attorney’s fees and all of his challenges to the Texas no-fault divorce statute under the Texas Constitution, except for his challenge under the “rights of conscience” guaranty in Article I, Section 6.  For reasons explained below, I agree with Mr. Waite that the no-fault divorce statute violates this provision of our state constitution by impermissibly interfering with Texans’ rights of conscience in matters of religion.

 

FB profile 7xtjw ( SIFC commentary: The religious conscience violation in this case was not tied with any punitive treatment by the court that directly led to wrongful impairment of property rights, as occurred in our case, but the dissenting opinion held the Respondent’s free exercise guarantee to be in direct conflict with the granting of a unilateral divorce because such judgment violated the Respondent’s right of conscience.   [Loud whistling applause from this blogger! ]   This judge showed uncommon insight in drawing a distinction between the state’s remit to establish a consensual “no fault” process, and the wholly unconstitutional practice of unilateral dissolution of marriage.   As a further note, this was a 3-judge panel, so this case could have gone either way.   Standerinfamilycourt believes the dissenting opinion was far better developed and informed than the majority opinion.  Those who oppose true free exercise are usually fine with letting people believe whatever they wish, but they often refuse to acknowledge a person’s 1st Amendment right to actually walk out that belief without suffering negative sanctions for doing so.)

 

9.  MacFarlane v MacFarlane, Ohio (2006)   8th District C.A. #3155

In this case where the husband filed a unilateral petition in 2003, the couple was Catholic and the wife had always home-schooled the four children.   The husband was not in agreement that the homeschooling continue once the children were high school age, and the resulting dispute between husband and wife escalated until the marriage deteriorated.

FB profile 7xtjw  (SIFC note:  Since the original writing of this blog, I have had the privilege of becoming acquainted with Mrs. MacFarlane, who now runs the very effective ministry known as Mary’s Advocates, and goes by the name Bai.    As commonly occurs in such cases, the judge writing the legal judgment is not completely accurate with all of the facts, and Bai has contacted us requesting a correction in the last sentence above, which was taken directly from the court document.    Here is Bai’s clarification sent to us:

[The judge had written this:  On pages 4 and 5 of this court document it reads as follows:

{¶ 4} As part of their religious beliefs and desire to have control over the education of their children, Husband and Wife agreed that their children would be home schooled.   Husband testified that he thought it would only be for their early school years and that eventually they would be put in a traditional school setting;  Wife, however, wanted the boys home schooled until adolescence or high school.

{¶ 6} Husband testified that sometime in 2000, he started talking to Wife about enrolling the children in a traditional school. He also discussed moving to Canada, where he had made friends with a group of like-minded Catholics who had started their own school for about eight families. From the outset of these discussions,  Wife was adamant that she did not want the children in a traditional school. This disagreement became a source of constant tension in the marriage.

Bai MacFarlane:  ” In the year 2000, our oldest child turned 9, so it is a little early to be arguing about adolescence or high school homeschooling, which I assert that we were not arguing about during that year.   When my husband abandoned the marital home, our oldest was 11 years-old which is still early to be arguing about high school homeschooling. Our youngest was 2.   From the Cuyahoga County court’s perspective, stay-at-home moms have to find work outside the home if the Plaintiff-Dad does not want to continue supporting his wife and children as he had been before abandoning marriage.  Our county also cannot tolerate children being taught a biblical-based view of marriage in which abandoning the home is equivalent to breaking the family.   See excerpt from court psychologist here.” ]

 

Both husband and wife filed for legal separation, then the husband amended his petition to seek a divorce.  After about a year’s proceedings, the wife started petitioning the court to defer the case to a canonical tribunal.   She asserted the Catholic Church had the authority over their marriage by the couple’s prior mutual agreement.

The husband sought custody of the children and wanted to put them in parochial schools.   Court records documented that both spouses had issues with erratic behavior, but custody was eventually awarded to the husband-Petitioner due to several hostile actions of the wife, some of which occurred in court.   The wife went through several attorneys and appears to have been poorly-advised,  since she acted in a way that,  per court procedures, forfeited her early rights to arbitration.   The wife’s appeal included a charge of religious discrimination on the basis the court decided custody in a way that precluded homeschooling for the children and, therefore, to raise them in the Catholic faith.   The wife’s appeal also alleged trial court antagonism toward the Catholic faith because it referred to her outspoken advocacy of homeschooling perjoratively as a “crusade”, and lastly that the court failed to undertake appropriate consideration of a pattern of domestic abuse by the husband in awarding custody of the children to the husband.

The appeals court ruled that since there was no written agreement between the spouses to yield any marriage issues to Church arbitration, the state had the sole jurisdiction.   They ruled divorce was appropriately granted, and custody appropriately awarded based on the recommendations of a court-appointed psychologist.   With regard to Ohio’s constitution clause on freedom of religion, it cites “freedom of worship” (rather than religious exercise) and contains a conscience clause.   The appeals court ruled that the court cannot consider religious preference in determining matters of custody, and that the court did not show preference between the husband’s beliefs and the wife’s, nor was it interfering with her freedom to continue to parent the children in her faith as the noncustodial parent.

The appeals court dismissed the wife’s allegation of court antagonism toward the Catholic faith.   With regard to her domestic abuse assertions, the appeals court found the wife to be the “less credible party” and ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion with regard to her domestic violence assertion, which aside from some controlling behavior by the husband, appeared to have been an isolated incident rather than a pattern.   The trial court was unanimously affirmed on all issues.

FB profile 7xtjw  (SIFC commentary: here’s a case where an inhumane law served nobody in the family, and probably did great damage to the children,  for all the court pontificating that took place about their welfare.  The presence of “acrimony” where, by unilateral theory, there isn’t supposed to be any invariably gets blamed on the person whose fundamental rights are being stripped away.   Both spouses had pre-existing serious emotional problems that were well-documented in the court record, but neither spouse was incentivized to get the treatment they both needed.   Had the law not been unilateral, there would have been far more incentive to seek much-needed individual and marital counseling through this couple’s well-established church connections.  Space should have been left for voluntary and informal church-based mediation without court involvement, which would have been more the case had fault still been required to be proven in order to dissolve the marriage. 

Nobody was emotionally abusing the children until divorce and forced separation of assets and custody was imposed.   It requires tremendous composure and inner grounding to remain stable during an imposed divorce that violates deep religious convictions, and nearly impossible for someone with a background of emotional instability.  In the total absence of adultery, substance abuse, or domestic violence, the state’s mangling of this family is truly tragic.

Additionally, Ohio’s constitution seems a bit weak in its reference to “worship” instead of free exercise, but it was what it was.   The wife’s access to religious protection under the stronger U.S. Constitution provision was probably out of reach,  since divorce cases usually aren’t heard in Federal courts, and then there remained the problem of sorting between the gray areas of disagreement between two Catholic parents.   Of note:  Ohio did not have a  Religious Freedom Restoration Act enacted at the time, but if it had, its application would likely have been moot unless Mrs. MacFarlane had asserted in a more effective way that the divorce itself was against her right of conscience and against the teaching of the Catholic church.  This whole case is just sad. )

 

10.  Borman v Pyles-Borman (Tennessee) 2014   Circuit Court, Roane County No. 2014CV36   

In a very different kind of equal protection case, two homosexuals who went to Iowa to get “married”, came back to Tennessee to live, and were now suing the state for the “right” to get a divorce.   They allege that the state is treating their relationship as a “second-class marriage” in not legally recognizing it for purposes of granting a divorce.   (Never mind that the plaintiffs themselves are treating their own “marriage” as a second-class relationship!)

The theory of the plaintiffs is that “doctrinal developments” have changed the precedent whereby the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling decided in 1972 on a “rational basis” standard that though there was a fundamental right to complementary marriage, no 14th Amendment right existed to state recognition of homosexual relationships.    One of those “doctrinal developments” seems to be that the state has reduced its purpose in recognizing and fostering the institution of marriage in purposeful protection of the natural family unit from generation to generation, to merely a registry of cohabitation (while it lasts).

“Equal protection” and “privacy”  in the eyes of many lower courts is the unfettered right of the individual to be as immoral as he or she desires to be,  but at the same time, individuals are treated by these courts as having no rights if they instead desire to live morally and as holy scripture commands, for the sake of the generations coming behind them.

This court agreed with all the other courts that marriage is a fundamental right, but stated that neither the Tennessee Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court has ever ruled that homosexuals have a right to marry someone of the same gender.

If an individual has an undisputed fundamental right to complementarian marriage, then it should follow that they have a fundamental right to remain married, absent any proof of just interest for the state in terminating legal recognition of the marriage.   “Irreconciliable Differences” is the statutory grounds, but in a contested case (and it was not specified in the ruling whether Mr. Pyles-Borman was actually contesting)  any such finding is merely a pre-mandated conclusion or inference if evidence to the contrary  is barred, and not considered.   The most important evidence to the contrary is always the non-offending, contesting spouse’s desire to reconcile the marriage in order to achieve the purpose for which the state originally had an interest in providing legal protections.

This case is being further appealed through the deep pockets of the homosexual rights movement, and if affirmed by the state appeals courts, it could be the first divorce case heard by a Federal court in decades.   That would set an interesting precedent.    However, the Federal case, Tanco v Haslam  (and three other cases involving homosexual couples married in other states) and seeking recognition in Tennessee is likely to be ruled on first, having been heard in August, 2014 by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

 

 

11.  Romero v Romero, Kentucky (2014)   Circuit Court, Jefferson County

A lesbian couple married in Massachusetts in 2004 also brought a divorce case in a state that did not recognize out of state homosexual marriages.    The case was dismissed in February,, 2014.    A similar lawsuit was filed by homosexual legal activists to challenge the constitutionality of Kentucky’s definition of marriage on a 14th Amendment equal protection basis.   However, the constitutional challenge in this case became moot when several homosexual couples suing to overturn the state’s ban on homosexual marriage prevailed in July, 2014.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC Update:   On November 6, 2014,  the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court decisions in four cases (collectively, DeBoer v Snyder) seeking to invalidate each state’s ban on recognition of homosexual marriage, therefore upholding those bans, including Tennessee and Kentucky – hence impacting both of the above cases.   It remains to be seen whether the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to hear the resulting appeal after declining last month to rule on several others.    

For now, the courts are fiercely asserting Federal and state ownership, definition and determination of that which sovereignly belongs to God, and was defined by God.    That Divine and Sovereign definition entails both complementarity (Matthew 19:4) and permanence (Matthew 19:6).

Standerinfamilycourt believes that a return to the standard of complementarity can only be accomplished, over time, by a return to appropriate state respect and protection for the permanence of the marriage covenant,  wherever there is neither mutual consent for dissolution, nor substantial cause for involuntary dissolution.    Over time, the improved stability of true families will dissipate the demand for socially deviant forms of the marriage contract, whether to legitimize and financially enable adultery,  polygamy or homosexuality.   This was the case for generations,  that demand for such contracts was low prior to the misguided unilateral divorce legislation.   Although a return to the proven path may be painful, its result will be far more sustainable in the long run,  especially for the budgets of local governments.

Why did I end this post about constitutional challenges to the “no-fault” law with a couple of homosexual rights cases?    Followers of Christ believe that God, not the State, gave us both our fundamental liberty, as well as our state and Federal constitutions.    I have already argued that in similar fashion, it was God who gave us His holy institution of marriage.  All three are Divine, purpose-bestowed privileges that can be revoked if abused, both from individuals and from an entire society.

We read in Proverbs 14:  “Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. “

I believe this timeless proverb from the Lord applies equally to Lady Justice, as we are seeing with the continued, escalating devaluation of both the purpose and effect of marriage in our society.    There will come a day for fire, brimstone,  and foreign invaders if we remain on this defiant path, but for the past 45 years, our patient Heavenly Father has been allowing America to suffer the natural consequences of her rebellion, as any loving father would hope for repentance from the heart, against His definition of the institution He defined and He created.

The second reason I end with these cases is my comprehensive study of all the 2013-2014 religious freedom and homosexual marriage rights cases, in my search to understand just what constitutes a legally viable class.   With these cases, we’ve clearly gone well beyond limiting disenfranchised and politically-disfavored classes to immutable characteristics, as state and Federal rulings handed down across the land this past year have been “all over the map” in terms of the level of review or scrutiny applied.    In some of the cases, judges are asserting that a group of people have a fundamental right to marriage based on a proclivity they were not born with.

Is it such a stretch from these recent decisions that a currently unprotected class of citizens should be recognized as a “suspect” class meriting heightened scrutiny over the unilateral dissolution of their longstanding marriages due to their shared, common convictions around its biblical and traditional permanence? 

 

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

–  www.standerinfamilycourt.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUCKING “NO-FAULT” DIVORCE: CONSTITUTIONAL CASE HISTORY IN THE U.S. 1970-Present – Part 1

IlSupCtBg

By Standerinfamilycourt.com

PART 1  –  1970 to 1999

Blogger’s Note:   the discussion that follows reflects only my own research and independent thought, and does not necessarily reflect the advice of my attorneys

My divorce attorney and I caught the commuter train together to travel downtown and present our appeals case to constitutional attorneys whose specialty is religious freedom cases.   I had been googling and downloading various divorce appeals cases for weeks where challenge had been brought to the constitutionality of the unilateral divorce regime in other states, while looking for the history of such cases in Illinois, religious (1st Amendment), and secular (14th Amendment).   I wanted to know what I was getting into with a constitutional appeal, and whether I could hope to find the resources to sustain one.   I wanted to know how such a blatantly harsh law could survive challenge, when it stripped constitutional protections from the spouse who wanted to heal their marriage,  and handed everything on a platter to the spouse who had already behaved destructively toward the marriage, had then brought the petition, and stood to gain financially from it at the other spouse’s expense and that of the rest of the family.   What sort of rationale was the constitutional portion of my appeal going to face?

 

I knew from the way I was being bullied by the trial court that, at a very minimum, my First Amendment rights to freedom of conscience and biblical conduct had been seriously violated.   I had been chided by the judge and by opposing counsel for attempting to disprove the statutory grounds with legitimate evidence.   I had quoted Luke 16:18 from the witness stand concerning the utter illegitimacy of the concept of “irreconcilable differences” and “irretrievable breakdown” between a brother and sister in Christ.   When I was reminded by the judge that the absolute right to dissolve one’s marriage for no cause was the law of the land,  I sealed my economic fate in that courtroom by affirming the power and authority of God’s law,  stating “God’s law is higher than man’s law” and stating that God’s law forbids irreconcilable differences.   I also knew that although I was the non-offending spouse who believed biblically that I was married for life in God’s eyes and I never asked to live separately or any other way except with the husband I still dearly loved, the court was seeking to award my husband a sizeable portion of my retirement savings just because my balance was larger than his – and marital misconduct (his expensive years of adultery) could not be taken into consideration by the court, according to the Illinois statute which appeared to be blatantly violating the Fourteenth Amendment, …yet,

The Illinois constitution reads as follows, in the Bill of Rights:

SECTION 1: INHERENT AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS… to secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and the protection of property, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

SECTION 2: DUE PROCESS AND EQUAL PROTECTION – No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law nor be denied the equal protection of the laws.  

This is verbatim the U.S. Constitution, and each state constitution for the cases I read had analogous provisions.   If this was so, why hadn’t a case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, if the state courts were not upholding their own constitutions in these unilateral divorce appeals?

 

The principle of Federalism weighs pretty heavily here.   Since the U.S. Constitution left all marriage law to the states and took no authority for the Federal government, it is a blessing that state constitutions emulate the U.S. Constitution in these key provisions.   Nobody can attempt to bring an appeal on a marriage case before any Federal court until it has (very expensively) worked its way through the state appeals courts.   Shockingly, in case after case, state after state, those state supreme courts ruled that they were required to construe duly-passed legislation in a way that presumed constitutionality, and the burden was on the individual bringing the appeal to prove the state’s aims weren’t legitimate on any level(while at the same time allowing no evidence of the unwise or corrosive impact of the law as a whole).

Dissenting minority opinions to those state supreme court decisions asserted arguments including

(1) objection that Petitioners are given control of the proceedings while sometimes lacking “clean hands” (implying an equal protection problem with regards to the legitimacy of the grounds for divorce)     – FLORIDA (1973)

(2) objection that some statutory wording of the grounds for divorce impacting three states, excluding Illinois, violates the Establishment clause by entangling the state in impermissible religious inquiry  – TEXAS  (2001)

(3) objection that Respondents’ right of conscience must not be violated in the granting of “no-fault” divorce unless the statute can stand when tested under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act   – TEXAS  (2001)

 

What I have just described is the concept of “Rational Basis” being applied by the majority in a typical three-judge panel in all the constitutional appeals cases to-date.   Absent some basis on which to prove intentional legislative discrimination or disparate impact against a politically disenfranchised “suspect class” which deprives them of their fundamental rights, state appellate and supreme courts are going to impute “due process” to any regime that can be shown to be reasonably connected to some “legitimate” government aim,  even if innocent parties are substantially harmed by offending parties, and even if society is harmed rather than benefited, as many cases have gone into court with empirical evidence that has been consistently dismissed.    I could find no relevant state case that has ever been accepted for hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court in all the years since 1970  up to the present, that is, until all of the homosexual cases came along, armed with equal protection victories in the lower courts and with government entities appealing.

In 1986, a religious freedom case brought by non-attorney citizen  Judith Brumbaugh of Florida, was docketed at the U.S. Supreme Court, but was declined without hearing “for want of a Federal question”.   There normally has to be a disagreement about constitutionality among several states and their corresponding regional Federal circuits before the U.S. Supreme Court will take on a marriage case.    In 2013-2014, however, judicial activists planted in the court system, principally by President Obama but also by earlier administrations, have greased the skids and changed the precedents for marriage cases because of the lawsuits against governments brought by homosexual activists seeking marriage rights and recognition.   This development could present a potential turning point in the eventual defeat of unilateral divorce for several reasons.

 

What follows is a synopsis of some key state cases ruled on appeal since shortly after first unilateral divorce laws were enacted 45 years ago.    A handful of these cases are religious freedom / discrimination cases, but most are based on either Article 1 Section 10,  asserting impairment of the marriage contract,  or the 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection clauses or both.   I believe they are interesting to study, and they show that there has been persistent spirited resistance over the years to the unconstitutional nature of unilateral divorce both by citizens, and even by a handful of dissenting judges.

 

  1. Walton v Walton, California (1970-1972)   28 Cal. App.3d 108

In the first state to enact unilateral divorce, and in the first year following enactment, the husband brought a unilateral petition where strict allegation of “irreconcilable differences”, not further defined in the statute, was accepted as irrefutable evidence of breakdown in a marriage of more than 20 years duration. In circumstances most likely beyond the Respondent wife’s control or consent, the couple had been said to have lived apart without a legal separation for over two years.

FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC commentary: According to a plurality of behavioral science studies, two years is the average life for infatuation typically associated with an uninterrupted and unimpeded adulterous relationship,  a time period over which an innocent conscientious moral objector to divorce has no control and little influence.)

In a situation much like mine, the embattled wife felt compelled to assent to the existence of “irreconcilable differences” in court documents, in an attempt to protect her property rights under the law.   Unlike me, however, she lacked the biblical imperative of answering first to God to resist doing so, and the appeals court held that fact against her in its determination.   Additionally, she was at the time of her appeal seeking separate maintenance under the same statute as an alternative to dissolution of the marriage, most likely for financial dependency reasons.   This fact unconscionably worked against the deemed validity of some of her appeal points.   Lastly, and keeping in mind that this was a groundbreaking new law at the time, the appeals court stated that she (or her attorneys) failed to invoke some “discretionary” powers of the trial court to hear evidence of the marital misconduct that was nevertheless barred by the statute, and therefore, according to the court, she waived consideration of the due process aspect of the marital misconduct clause.

The appellate court rejected all of the wife’s secular constitutional assertions: (1) impairment of the marriage contract by ex post facto change in grounds definition, (2) statutory vagueness of “irreconcilable differences” as a grounds for divorce, (3) exclusion of marital misconduct constitutes a violation of due process over property rights, (4) the double-standard that connects the Respondent’s compelled assent to the existence of “irreconcilable differences” to the procedural protection of her property rights constitutes a violation of constitutional equal protection guarantees, (5) “irreconcilable differences” grounds deprives spouses of their vested interest in their marital status without due process.

As in all subsequent cases, the Article 1, Sec. 10 argument that the marriage contract should be protected in the same way as a commercial partnership contract from impairment by legislative changes was defeated by the U.S. Supreme Court case Maynard v. Hill, which was almost 200 years old at the time of this appeal.   However, if that is a fixed and unchangeable precedent, then one of the chief rationales for the exclusion of marital misconduct as a factor in determining property division, on the theory that the marriage is an equal “economic partnership”, should also be constitutionally invalid on the same consistent basis.

I highlight an egregious statement made by the court because there was no heightened scrutiny protection afforded to this wife as one of the first members of a politically disfavored class from whom fundamental rights were being stripped, while the appeals court majority claimed she did not suffer this fundamental rights deprivation without due process of law:

“The state’s inherent sovereign power includes the so called “police power” right to interfere with vested property rights whenever reasonably necessary to the protection of the health, safety, morals, and general well being of the people. The constitutional question, on principle, therefore, would seem to be, not whether a vested right is impaired by a marital law change, but whether such a change reasonably could be believed to be sufficiently necessary to the public welfare as to justify the impairment.”

FB profile 7xtjw Standerinfamilycourt believes that use of the term “interfere” in this opinion severely trivialized the impact to this wife and to their shared family, and deflected attention from the fact that a fundamental right was being violated in a way that merited heightened scrutiny.   The court should have required the state to prove the necessity of the law as the least impairing and restrictive means of protecting the health, safety, “morals” (a heinously subjective term) and wellbeing of the people.   However, the court did not have the empirical evidence we have today that the law has accomplished exactly the opposite of what this court described as a “compelling” state interest ( a legal term, the use of which would have in later years required the state to carry the burden of proving, nevertheless).   Case law that would set a precedent for applying the correct level of judicial review to properly address the stripping of fundamental rights from a disenfranchised class on a basis other than race, gender, nationality, etc. would not start developing for another 5 years after this ruling.

There was no dissenting opinion in this proceeding.

 

   2.  Ryan v Ryan, Florida (1973)  277 So.2d 269   State Supreme Ct

Another very early case in a state that replaced all previous grounds definition with “irreconcilable differences” which was left to the discretionary judgment of the court and not further defined in the statute. The effect was that the petitioning spouse needed only to make the allegation and prove residency, and their non-offending spouse was effectively precluded from defending against it. There was chatter in the opinion to the effect that the finding of “irreconcilable differences” did require some evidence of “irretrievable breakdown”, but at the same time admitted that the evidence could be uncorroborated, and that the decision relied entirely on the court’s discretion.

Unlike the previously mentioned Florida Brumbaugh case from the 1980’s that follows, this case was entirely secular, raising all of the same issues as the Walton case did in California the prior year, and substantially the same points made in the appellate ruling.

The copy I pulled down without a legal subscription lists only the arguments and the findings without citing any facts from the case.   One point is raised, however, that probably also impacted the Walton case but was only alluded to and not explicitly addressed in that case.   I find the point interesting because it provides quite a contrast with our case, given how society its economic structure has changed in the intervening 40 years.    In both the Walton and Ryan cases, the wife was economically dependent on the husband who was unilaterally divorcing her.   They had both been homemakers in a day when women had far fewer opportunities to carry on a self-sustaining economic life.   While there were provisions in the “no-fault” law for dividing retirement assets to a financially dependent spouse, and providing for economic maintenance, both wives were appealing constitutionally because they were being deprived of vested property rights in their husbands’ future accumulation when they had committed no offense against the marriage, hence being deprived of constitutional due process. (I can’t say that I disagree with Mrs. Ryan in her situation as a non-offending spouse, because I believe it is inherently unconstitutional to grant a contested divorce without proof of harm to the marriage, but the appeals courts disagreed).   The ruling cited the following assertion previously made by the same court:

“During the life of the husband, the right [to inherited property or appreciation in the full marital estate] is a mere expectancy or possibility. In that condition of things, the lawmaking power may deal with it as may be deemed proper. It is not a natural right. It is wholly given by law, and the power that gave it may increase, diminish or otherwise alter it or otherwise take it away.”   They went on to say the same principle applies to every other type of named or potential heir to a person’s estate.

FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC commentary: Contrast that bygone era with the more contemporary situation where a self-supporting, financially independent offending spouse can use a divorce petition and an unconscionable law to leverage a sizable portion of the non-offending spouse’s assets because a U.S. Supreme Court decision that preceded enactment of the unilateral divorce law by 200 years declined to uphold the marriage contract in the same fashion as other contracts, yet the law itself equates the two for property divisions purposes only.)

 

The court further stated that “due process” was met upon a provision of notice and an opportunity to be heard.   This limited the discussion to procedural due process, ignoring substantive due process rights, and did not take into account the judicial stifling of the “opportunity to be heard” imposed by typical court operating rules that give the favored Petitioner far more latitude to present evidence than the disfavored Respondent.

 

Highlights of Dissenting Opinion  (SIFC could not do this justice by paraphrasing, so here’s the conclusion, verbatim):  

R ROBERTS, Justice (dissenting).

A large body of case law extending over a long period of years, written by many eminent and distinguished jurists has repeatedly reiterated that the “clean hands” doctrine does most assuredly apply to divorce suits.

To hold otherwise would impute to the lawmakers a total lack of interest in the faithful spouse who over a long period of years has suffered abuses and indignities, but who is forced to accept a divorce not because of his or her own wrongdoing, but because the offending spouse has mutilated the marriage. The innocent party’s objection to the divorce may well be for good reason, and it seems to me after having been a member of the Bar for 44 years, and a member of this Court for 23 years, to be an odd legal pronouncement to say that an offending spouse could profit by his own misconduct and obtain the sought for divorce because of his or her own wrongdoing and abuses.

Under the majority view a wrongdoing husband can come home every Saturday night for five years, drunk and penniless because of skirt-chasing, gambling, or some other misdeeds; then, he may beat, bruise and abuse his wife because he is unhappy with himself, and then he will be permitted to go down and get a divorce on printed forms purchased at a department store and tell the trial judge that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. Or, the offending wife, after jumping from bed to bed with her new found paramours, chronically drunk, and when at home nagging, brawling and quarreling, all against the wishes of a faithful husband who remains at home nurturing the children, is permitted to divorce her husband who does not desire a divorce, but rather, has one forced upon him, not because of anything he has done, but because the offending wife tells the trial court that her marriage is “irretrievably broken”.

In my opinion, the offending spouse should not have standing to obtain a divorce if the innocent one invokes the doctrine that,

“He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.”

It is the duty of this Court to seek a construction of a statute which would support its constitutionality. By merely retaining the “clean hands” doctrine, I could agree that the “no-fault” divorce statute is constitutional, but absent this,

I must respectfully dissent.

FB profile 7xtjw(SIFC commentary: Justice Roberts was here precisely echoing the words transcribed 4 years earlier of Fred T. Hanson, the head of the NCCUSL Commission that authored UMDA, in his dissent with the majority on that uniform state law advisory commission. He is essentially saying that granting a unilateral petition to an offending spouse against the consent of a non-offending spouse denies equal protection under the law.   Had these gentlemen been heeded, our nation would be in a very different place today.)

 

     3.  MVR v TMR,  New York (1982) 115 Misc 2d 674

This was a fault-based case alleging mental cruelty and abandonment brought by the wife of a homosexual.   New York would not adopt unilateral divorce until 2010, and at the time of the case, had not adopted the exclusion of marital misconduct as a factor in property division.   The judge still interpreted the existing statute as prohibiting the consideration of marital misconduct after comparing with the practices of the other states that had adopted variations of UMDA.   He stated that did so for the purpose of giving special protection to the homosexual Respondent.

There was no discussion of financial misconduct in the case, and it’s unclear why the wife Petitioner wanted marital misconduct considered in the settlement.   Presumably the reason why the abandoning / offending Respondent, who did not appear to be committed to the marriage, was not the Petitioner was that there was no “irreconcilable differences” ground available to him at the time.

The ruling pontificated upon the difficulty of apportioning mutual marital fault (as if family law is the only setting where this unbearable burden is foisted on the beleaguered judiciary), and asserted the following discussion of the “economic partnership” marriage constitutes:

“As in commercial partnership law, from which this model is drawn, fault is irrelevant in the distribution of partnership assets upon dissolution of the partnership. “ The discussion goes on to claim that the “partners” are merely getting back what they contributed.

 

FB profile 7xtjw  (SIFC commentary: fair enough in this limited instance where the divorce itself is not without due secular cause and not unilaterally imposed.   However, this Certified Public Accountant would be remiss not to point out that nothing precludes additional civil action for financial malfeasance by commercial partners that would not be available to spouses.   Therein the popular UMDA-inspired false analogy breaks down.  Further, as our case demonstrates, unenforced and defeated dissipation curbs allow some “partners” to “get back” far more than they contributed to the marriage estate. )

 

   4.  Brumbaugh v Brumbaugh, Florida (1983-1987)  FL5th District C.A. & U.S. Supreme Court

I was not able to download a free copy of this case, so I base my description on author Judith Brumbaugh’s compelling book, Judge, Please Don’t Strike That Gavel On My Marriage  From the beginning, Florida had one of the harshest laws in the nation because like California, it adopted the advisory Uniform Marriage and Dissolution Act (UMDA) without significant modification.   Ten years after enactment, marriages were being flushed away with vending machine-like “efficiency”, and courts were thuggishly punishing anyone who dared stand in front of the steamroller.   Then along came one of those annoying religious objectors, hauling her bible into court and thumping it as if it were a higher law than the Florida Statute.

Mr. Brumbaugh had brought his unilateral petition as a result of his own adultery, having once professed to being an evangelical Christian for the entire period of their 20 year marriage.   Like Mrs. Walton and Mrs. Ryan,  Mrs. Brumbaugh had been a homemaker for the duration of her marriage, including home-schooling her children, and was financially dependent on her husband.   Her resistance to assenting  to the “irreconcilable differences” grounds caused the judge not only to punish her financially,  but also to ensure that she could not pay legal fees, and even to tamper with her court transcript, as she discovered during her appeals process.   For the majority of her legal journey she was forced to educate and represent herself.   Though she was the non-offending spouse, she was stripped of all property rights and custody of her children.   Many parents’ rights advocates say this is what commonly happens as a result of contesting a divorce on moral grounds, so parents feel compelled to violate their moral convictions in order not to lose parental rights.   Since SIFC is not conversant in Parents Rights issues, we refer the reader to advocate Stephen Baskerville.

Mrs. Brumbaugh asserted that she was being punished by the court for exercising her First Amendment right to free exercise of religious conscience in contesting her case, since she believed,  as I do, that the bible strictly prohibits and God does not recognize divorce between covenant spouses, and that subsequent remarriage while a covenant spouse is still living constitutes adultery, as Jesus clearly stated.   There was not a dissipation of assets claim involved, but parental rights and religious rights to the continuation of the children’s upbringing were very much at issue.

Had she succeeded in being heard on appeal, she may potentially have prevailed on a First Amendment free exercise-based challenge because the landmark 1990 decision, Oregon v Smith had not yet set the precedent that diluted religious protections against broadly applicable state laws like the marriage dissolution law which violated her deeply held convictions.   Since that time,  effective religious conscience protections have come to depend heavily on state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts which were developed at the Federal level and in several states in response to the attempted curtailment of original constitutional protections.   Like standerinfamilycourt,  Mrs. Brumbaugh was financially punished by a hostile judge for contesting her husband’s petition on moral and biblical grounds based on the dictates of her conscience, and according to her biblical responsibility before God for her family’s spiritual wellbeing.

This lady’s strong persistence through several years of wrangling with state courts, her desire to become educated out of a motivation to help others, and her string of losses in the state courts eventually led to her case being docketed at the U.S. Supreme Court, but ultimately it was dismissed without hearing.   At the end of her 4 year legal journey, Mrs. Brumbaugh was still self-represented due to lack of funds for legal counsel.

 

FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC commentary:  At that time, the various legal ministries devoted to defending religious liberties were just getting started, and though they all have mission statements that promote the defense of the traditional family, most still do not construe that mission to include defending against forced divorce cases that violate religious conscience, and several told us they do not readily accept that religious discrimination is a core issue in such cases.   The reasons seem to have mostly to do with fundraising and not wanting to politically offend certain constituencies.    However, as these same ministries have in 2014 been representing various states’ efforts to preserve the one man, one woman legal definition of marriage, they have been met with judicial chastisement over the apparent hypocrisy of this stance in failing to recognize the most dangerous form of marriage redefinition that actually enabled unilateral divorce.   SIFC prays that these ministries will penitently hear this as the voice of the Holy Spirit, even though the words are coming from the lips and pens of liberal judges determined to deconstruct traditional marriage.  SIFC believes that any victory against demonic spiritual enemies requires absolute integrity and total obedience to all of God’s word, fearing God above all men, and this could very well be a “core issue” in the lack of God’s blessing on their cases in the constitutional arena of homosexual and plural marriage redefinition.)   1M1W4L !

 

5.  Semmler v Semmler, Illinois (1985)   107 Ill.2d 130

In another case following shortly after enactment of a provision of the unilateral divorce law, specifically, the two year separation provision which in Illinois triggers unilateral dissolution if proven. The wife asserted unconstitutionality due to retroactive application (essentially the ex post facto, Article 1 Sec. 10 argument).   The trial court agreed with her and denied the divorce.

The husband appealed and the trial court decision was overturned based on earlier precedents the trial court failed to apply, including Maynard v Hill from the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is unfortunate that an issue around the constitutionality of marital misconduct being excluded as a consideration in the division of property or determining child custody wasn’t raised in this case.   The appellate court did not have an opportunity to observe the double-standard in singling out the marriage contract as not being subject to constitutional protection while the Illinois statute nevertheless demands to treat the marital estate as a contractual “economic partnership”.     An opportunity was missed to reverse the perverse economic incentive created by the statute (to walk out on one’s family with no economic consequences) that no doubt tugged at the conscience of that Kane County trial judge who was overruled in this  appeal.

 

 FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC commentary: This appears to be the only substantive challenge brought to the constitutionality of Illinois’ unilateral divorce law.   Another 1978 case Kujawinski v. Kujawinski 376 N.E.2d 1382 was brought on several counts of technical issues where the trial court ruled the law unconstitutional, and was also fully overturned.)

6.  Johari v Johari, Minnesota (1997)   Court of Appeals, CO-97-69

The husband brought a pro-se appeal of his wife’s no-fault judgment on equal protection grounds, and asserted that where there are minor children of the marriage, “irretrievable breakdown” as a standard for dissolution of the marriage does not meet the purpose of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, an issue not taken up in the trial court, thus dismissed.    In his role as Appellant, Mr. Johari failed to give required notice to the State Attorney General of his constitutional challenge which substantially damaged his case.   Mr. Johari did not raise a religious objection to the statute.

The appeals court ruled that Mr. Johari failed to make a legal argument on appeal, and cited no legal authority in support of his argument.   The court further ruled that newspaper and magazine articles he brought in support of his position were not adequate to establish error by the trial court.   Finally, the court ruled that the relief Mr. Johari sought in ordering the Minnesota Legislature to reverse the unilateral divorce statute to require a findng of cause, and set aside the divorce judgment pending this action was outside the court’s authority.    The trial court decision was affirmed.

 FB profile 7xtjw (SIFC commentary:  It is unfortunate that Mr. Johari was not able to be represented by trained counsel.    He certainly had the right idea.

 

Part 2 will cover cases brought since 2000, including some very interesting religious freedom cases.

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

 

 

 

 

 

Our Story (7 Times Around the Jericho Wall) – Part 3

IlSupCtStatue2

by Standerinfamilycourt.com

“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)”  

   –  2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 (Amplified)

Part 3:  PREPARATION FOR APPEAL CONTINUES….

Blogger’s Note:   the discussion that follows reflects only my own research and independent thought, and does not necessarily reflect the advice of my attorneys.  

Only God could bring down the fortified wall of Jericho that had stood for 3,000 years, and was the most formidable wall in the history of the world at that time.    In the same way, this appeal won’t be what pulls the tyrannical unilateral divorce law down, but the prayers and the honor of God’s glory behind this appeal (and hopefully more appeals to come in more states) that will pull the law down.   The principle of Federalism in our American tradition requires that this be a state-by-state process, as we’ve seen with those who wish to complete the destruction of marriage by further redefinition.    Only a mighty act of God (and uncharacteristic acts of human courage and leadership) could ever result in the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to take up the unilateral divorce issue, even if there’s constitutional victory for us at the state level.    I’m still praying for this, for nothing will be too hard for El Elyon, God Most High.

I mentioned in my first post that our constitutional law attorneys advised us that we will have to lose all of the technical points in our appeal before any constitutional arguments will be ruled on.    Now that’s discouraging- like peering up a fortified wall!

From my simple-minded layperson perspective, it’s pretty hard to separate the technical from the constitutional on several of the key points, and it hasn’t gotten any easier with all the research I’ve done since that summer day in downtown Chicago.    It seems that “abuse of discretion” and denial of equal protection or violation of my right of free religious exercise intertwine symbiotically – are cross-motivated, if you will.   I know I’ve had at least one wrestling conversation with my attorney debating whether we argue that the law itself is unconstitutional, or the law as applied to the facts of my case is unconstitutional…”arguments and theories and reasonings and and lofty things that set themselves up against the knowledge of God”  (Hopefully I’ll get a chance to understand a lot more than I do now about that distinction.)

The religious freedom case will, unfortunately, be too narrow to help anyone besides me, but if we are successful,  I’m told it will set a precedent that will be binding in the future and hopefully reform boorish behavior on the bench.   That is, if angry leftists don’t take legislative steps in response to any court victory of ours to change the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act, perhaps to gut it, or to once again single out marriage law as an exclusion.    The Hobby Lobby decision this past summer thrilled us, but really riled up the liberal forces because they realize what upholding strong conscience protections will do to curb both the pro-abortion and the LGBT political agendas.    Just wait til they get their wake-up call that the City of No-Fault is also under serious RFRA attack!   A couple of my previous posts discuss RFRA and its implications for our cause of restoring balanced constitutional protections to marriage law.

For these reasons (narrowness of impact and the political vulnerability of RFRA in our liberal-dominated state), my strong preference is to “swing for the fences”,  to supplement the religious freedom portion of our case with a simultaneous effort to persuade the court to look at Respondents as a “suspect class”,  disfavored and treated with animus by the entrenched powerful interests against whom we are politically weak and are therefore stripped of a host of fundamental rights when we’ve done nothing to harm our marriages.    I believe this would greatly bolster our 14th Amendment equal protection and due process arguments, and make any motivation to gut Illinois RFRA moot, with regard to our particular cause, at least.

Why does all this matter?   In the case of religious freedom, New Mexico also had a RFRA, but unfortunately because their law excludes “laws of general applicability” from RFRA protections, it was self-defeating (not exactly sure what it actually purported to accomplish other than window-dressing).    As a result, Elane Photography was told by a pompous, arrogant judge that checking her Christian convictions at the door was the price she had to pay as a citizen for the “privilege of being in business”.   Hence, she would apply her unique artistic talent to the dignification of homosexual marriage ceremonies to which she is morally opposed, a form of forced speech which in other circumstances  has been found to violate the 1st Amendment.    The U.S. Supreme Court, unfortunately, concurred with New Mexico by declining to review, since a 1993 prior ruling set a precedent that made it much harder to apply the bare 1st Amendment religious freedom protections without an effective RFRA.   It probably didn’t take liberal interests too long to figure out that a RFRA which excludes “laws of general applicability” works a heck of a lot better for them than one that is verbatim the Federal version, since this New Mexico decision came in approximately the same time frame as the  Hobby Lobby decision.

With regard to equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment, all of the prior constitutional challenges to the unilateral divorce law in various states failed because there was not yet sufficient case precedents to empower the courts to apply any higher standard than “rational basis” to the cases.    Under this easy (sleazy) standard of review, all a state had to do is demonstrate that the law served a “legitimate” purpose, such as easing the cost of divorce on battered spouses, or ensuring that homemakers received a fair share of their employed spouse’s retirement if divorce was necessary.    They didn’t have to prove that the law actually accomplished any particular objective, so bad laws could live on even if some disfavored group was negatively and unfairly impacted or if profound unintended consequences resulted for society as a whole.

Precedents and criteria for “heightened” review started to slowly build in 1976, but really started to escalate just in the last two years with the HHS mandate cases (such as Hobby Lobby), and with the homosexual marriage cases.    Many of the latter have come over the summer of 2014 alone.    I remember sitting in that downtown Chicago law office in early July and relating how I had been repeatedly denied due process in both of our trials.   Both attorneys looked at me and said something to the effect of  “Well, they gave you a day in court and let you present evidence, right?”

(To which I replied, “By that standard, Jesus received due process!” )    That’s what “rational basis” does to the due process rights of disfavored parties – it makes them evaporate.

Under intermediate or heightened scrutiny, it becomes possible to make the case that the law has not accomplished its purpose and that there were better options available that either were not considered or were rejected.    Under heightened  or strict scrutiny, we can start to argue that the state didn’t have a good enough reason to elevate the rights of one spouse over the fundamental rights of the other by excluding marital misconduct from the equation.    Or that if they truly wanted, as they claimed, to stop “perjury collusion” in the case of two people who both wanted out of their marriage, it was neither rational nor necessary to impose unilateral divorce on everyone else, including contesting spouses who were morally opposed to divorce and had done absolutely nothing to harm their marriage or spouse.

It was well and good that I stood a pretty fair chance of prevailing on a religious discrimination argument.   RFRA explicitly compels the application of strict scrutiny if I can prove that the law was compelling me to violate my deeply-held religious convictions.    Since to preserve my dissipation claim, I was under pressure to agree that my marriage was “irretrievably broken”, was expected to have taken action to threaten divorce or actually file a divorce petition which would disobey God who only created marriage, not divorce.   I was further expected to separate our finances,  another violation of God’s prescribed order for the family roles.   I think we can make that case of showing that the law significantly burdens my biblical convictions.   That forces opposing counsel or the state of Illinois to prove that the state has a compelling interest in dismissing my dissipation claim for my failure to meet those expectations, which I doubt they can do.   Whatever that compelling interest might purport to be, they then have to prove there wasn’t a less burdensome route to achieving that interest.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court skipped discussion of “compelling interest” and jumped straight to the obvious circumstance that there were many less restrictive means of achieving their aim of providing no-cost contraceptives and abortifacients to Hobby Lobby employees.    So, I had to dig out another HHS case on a local pair of firms that had worked their way through the 7th Circuit to see a good definition of “compelling interest”.   State appellate judges are influenced by but not bound by Federal court definitions,  as I understand.   In Korte v Sebelius, November, 2013,  that Federal court described a compelling government interest as follows:

only those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served can overbalance legitimate claims to the free exercise of religion….only the gravest abuses endangering paramount interests give occasion for permissible limitation.  The regulated conduct must pose some substantial threat to public safety, peace or order… Finally, a law cannot be regarded as protecting an interest of the highest order when it leaves appreciable damage to that supposedly vital interest unprohibited. “

It’s hard to imagine what could be said to convince the court that my conscience-based refusal to declare my marriage irretrievably broken or file for divorce or separate our finances was a “grave” abuse or that it threatened a state interest of the “paramount, highest order”, or posed a public threat of any sort.   It did consume higher than average court resources, I suppose – but just whose fault is that?  I neither asked to be in court, nor harmed my marriage or husband.  Is it not more true that the exclusion of marital misconduct provision in the the law itself creates the appreciable damage to the state’s interest in conserving court resources?

As I said before, all of that was well and good, but as Kingdom-builder and as a taxpayer, I am still not satisfied!   I believe the law discriminates just as badly against a disfavored and powerless class of people who may not hold any religious convictions at all, but hold moral convictions around the wholeness and integrity of their families.    The contribution of unilateral divorce to the poverty rates is well enough documented that the National Organization of Women stood in formal opposition to the 2010 New York legislation that enacted unilateral divorce in the 50th U.S. state because of the proven harsh economic impacts on women and children.    In other words, NOW recognized that UMDA (Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act) was not meeting its stated objectives after more than a 40 year run.

While many of the cases I’d been studying on equal protection and due process can be googled for free, as I became more serious about studying this myself, I learned that I could use a nearby university law library for free, much the way pioneer Judith Brumbaugh did 30 years ago in her fight against Florida’s unilateral divorce law.   Attorney funds are low after spending almost $100,000 in trials, and I could get by well for myself by narrowly focusing the attorneys on my religious freedom relief valve, but as more Federal courts weighed in over the summer on fundamental rights, “suspect” classes, and levels of scrutiny, I was determined to learn more and try to do as much damage to this immoral law as one woman, who has been given a providential opportunity, can do.    I realized I have the opportunity right now to inspire and empower people in other states, and expand the benefit of my efforts in my own state.    As the power and move of God would have it, the summer drew to a close while some Federal judges were chastising folks I truly admire at various religious freedom legal ministries because their state government clients seem fine with unilateral divorce despite its proven toxicity to society and its corrosiveness to marriage as an institution.   Amen!

I’m looking forward excitedly to working with as many religious freedom ministries as I can, though this particular cause is not politically popular with them.   Not realizing they prefer to be contacted  through attorneys,  I contacted five of them on my own initiative several months ago when it looked apparent that the court was going to brutalize me over my strong religious objections to divorce, and an appeal, one that I might not have enough money to see through, was going to be unavoidable.    I had a sense back then where God was taking this and why.    Yet they all told me pretty much the same thing, that they “didn’t do family law” (- unless, of course, there happened to be homosexuality involved.)   Never mind that I explained I already had a family law attorney and was merely looking for a constitutional specialist.   They didn’t think my case was a true religious freedom case at its core.   Any burden on my free exercise of religion was “only incidental”.     I was so relieved that I was able to engage a constitutional religious freedom attorney with my own resources, and one whom these ministries regularly work with.    Because this battle is the Lord’s,  and the true weapons of our warfare must be spiritual weapons, I was so pleased to see the following clauses in their representation agreement:

Priority of Building the Kingdom:  This representation is undertaken by Client and the Firm to build the Kingdom of God according to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.  Consequently, it shall be interpreted and performed with that objective.

(This blogger believes it’s not worth doing for any other goal or in any other spirit!)

Prayer:  The parties shall pray for each other frequently.   The Firm as a whole shall pray for Client monthly.

(Blogger is grateful beyond words.)

The next few weeks will have us going over trial transcripts and agreeing an approach to the appeal while meeting the various submission deadlines set by the appeals court.    I related earlier how the Lord providentially supplied the funds I needed years in advance of the need, but actually as the attack on our marriage was starting.   I’m now down to the “loaves and fishes”,  but confident that God will continue to provide all our needs.   That may include people as importantly as funds if my efforts are to benefit others.   What if the Lord moves my prodigal husband to repentance before the appeal runs its course?   Our case if not pursued with others as a class would become immediately moot, yet my highest priority would have to be my husband’s restoration to that Kingdom.   His soul is on the line here!    I covet the prayers of the saints that the Lord will have His way in everything.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

  – Isaiah 30: 18

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall – Part 1

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall- Part 2

No Day in Court for (Stander) “Jane Doe”, Our Story – Part 4

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce

www. standerinfamilycourt.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Story (7 Times Around the Jericho Wall) – Part 2

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by Standerinfamilycourt.com

“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding,  excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.   

But you did not learn Christ in this way,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,  that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,  and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”    Ephesians 4:17-24

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”                    1 Corinthians 11:3

Part 2:  FROM DECREE TO PREPARATION FOR APPEAL

Blogger’s Note:   the discussion that follows reflects only my own research and independent thought, and does not necessarily reflect the advice of my attorneys.  

 In my earlier post I described what it’s like to be an unwilling “Respondent”,  a conscientious objector,  as some 80% of us are, in state government’s 45-year war on the traditional family.

My husband was seeking to be awarded over $200,000 of my retirement assets after spending some $500,000 or more on a 9-year adulterous overseas relationship, using his corporate position, foreign bank accounts, expense accounts and credit cards that I did not gain visibility of until property division discovery began, in the aftermath of our bifurcated grounds trial.   (Bifurcation is where the judge rules that there will be a separate trial for grounds and for issues with the division of property.   The trials can occur many months apart in a financially complex case such as ours. )

A very dirty secret of the government divorce regime is that the combination of case law and enacted law applies a double-standard to the marriage contract in a very unique way compared with any other legal contract.   For purposes of dividing property, the body of binding case law, and the legislative history behind the statute, holds that marital misconduct cannot be applied because the marriage must be treated as an equal “economic partnership”.    However, this is a spurious false analogy because most non-marital financial partnerships have far greater protections from partner malfeasance.    Unlike the marriage contact, they are legally binding without due cause, and cannot be interfered with by subsequent legislation that would impair them (per Article 1 Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution)  – and they cannot be broken without mutual consent and just compensation.   By contrast, case law going all the way back to the late 1800’s and the U.S. Supreme Court holds that Article 1 Section 10 (and corresponding state constitution counterparts) uniquely cannot be applied to protect the marriage contract from ex post facto laws that would impair it.    At the time that the husband of my youth and I repeated our marriage vows, “irreconcilable differences” was not a ground for divorce,  either in our original state or the state to which we would move 26 years later.   The Illinois law that would impair our marriage contract wasn’t enacted until 3 years after our wedding day,  and wasn’t enacted in the state in which we actually said those vows until after our 35th wedding anniversary had passed.

How utterly shameful that as a result of applying this double standard, the essential covenant building block of our society that shapes the citizen character necessary to sustain our constitutional democracy into the next generation is afforded far less legal protection than the contractual “economic partnership” it is illegitimately compared to by the “no-fault” machinery!

Two hallmarks of corrosive, morally-repugnant legislation that undermines the wellbeing of society as a whole by creating special entitlements for a politically favored group:  (1) pernicious use  of a popular false analogy, and (2)  contortions in the implementation details that result in having it both ways when it comes to a given set of facts and circumstances.     Case law around dissipation claims presents a classic example when joined with the political effort to prevent marital misconduct from having a material case outcome.

 

Not every state has found it necessary to bar marital misconduct from consideration in the division of marital property,  which by law includes retirement assets.    About a dozen states expressly allow marital misconduct to be considered for this purpose.  This alone  calls into serious question the necessity of this heinous exclusion which heavily favors the offending spouse who brings the petition, and whether it is the least restrictive means of accomplishing a desirable, or even necessary,  government aim.   This is an enormously important question because, while recent statistics show that cohabitation has caused the marriage rate to decline-hence the divorce rate appears to have levelled off for couples under the age of 50, the widely-reported claim that the overall divorce rate is declining is false.   By contrast, the divorce rate has been very rapidly increasing for couples past the age of 50  This government policy seems to do very serious harm to non-offending spouses who are nearing retirement age,  particularly if they contest the divorce action on a moral, family-based objection and they have been the more responsible party financially (reflecting the high correlation between financial stewardship and staying out of adultery).

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The legal community in our state wrings its hands over the prevalence of dissipation claims and has passed several recent measures to curb them, even though the inherent flaw in the philosophy of the law itself makes them the only available avenue to economic justice for many innocent Respondents on whom divorce was unwillingly imposed.    Our judge displayed a particular contempt toward our well-founded and carefully documented dissipation claim, which consumed some 8 trial days to fully present, due to the extent of the financial abuse.    As we shall see with the further details of our case, certain aspects of the “no-fault” law are only enforceable against a contesting, non-offending spouse by the liberal application of double-standards and by having a certain set of facts interpreted “both ways”, depending on the phase of the bifurcated trial (grounds versus property).

In order to avoid a grounds trial once a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, a non-offending “Respondent” must affirm or at least not dispute any of the (effective) civil charges that have been levelled against them and against the marriage.   They must, in effect, “plead guilty” in their filed response to the petition,  affirming each of the following allegations which constitute the legal basis for a finding of “irreconcilable differences” (in many other states, Respondents are not actually afforded this opportunity) :

– that husband and wife have lived separately and apart continuously for at least 2 years (unless a cohabiting  “reconciliation attempt” has occupied a portion of that time)

– that dissolving the marriage is in the family’s best interest

– that all attempts to reconcile have failed

– that further attempts to reconcile would be impracticable

– that the marriage has undergone an “irretrievable breakdown”

No bible-believing follower of Christ could ever conscionably sign off on the majority of these allegations without dishonoring God who is an active Party in the marriage covenant, unless theirs was a non-covenant remarriage of the kind that Jesus would call adultery per Luke 16:18 and Matthew 5:32.    Moreover, once forced to civil trial, my Christian attorney and I attempted to bring significant evidence to individually refute each of these points because they simply were not true.

My husband, on the other hand, defended against what limited evidence of ours the judge would allow with outright perjury, both in his deposition and on the witness stand.   Due to court rules of evidence, it was far from a level playing field to begin with,  Plaintiff vs. Defendant,  “Petitioner” vs. “Respondent”.   My husband was openly permitted by the judge to reach far back into our decades-long marriage and drag out his version of isolated incidents some 20 years prior to buttress his allegations, but I and my attorney were restricted to bringing evidence of events that occurred only in the two years prior to the petition filing.    Procedural Due Process and Equal Protection violation  #1.   

The judge deemed my husband “the more credible witness” for purposes of ruling on the truthfulness of the grounds, although there was never a shred of evidence brought in the case to support the judge’s bias against my personal credibility.    After all, we couldn’t both be telling the truth.   On the other hand, the judge had every opportunity to observe that my husband’s testimony conflicted not only with mine but with the testimony of both of our adult children in sworn depositions which the judge specifically asked to read before he ruled.   At times my husband’s testimony on the witness stand conflicted with testimony in his sworn deposition.   Perjury is very hard to keep track of,  but someone who is telling the truth has no such conflicts – all of this escaped the judge’s notice (or regard).   Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s adultery, there’s inevitably perjury,  yet it was I, the “Respondent”  who was presumed not a credible witness.   In his official ruling of “irreconcilable differences”, the judge is on record as stating he believed I was “punishing” my husband’s good behavior in coming home (from his overseas job) for virtually every holiday, and for sleeping with me every time during the two years of “separation”;  I was punishing my husband with my decision to contest the grounds for divorce,  and because I sought to bring evidence to refute the civil allegations against me and against our decades-long marriage.   Love for my husband and reverence  for the clear instructions of God could not,  in the judge’s biased eyes, have plausibly motivated my behavior.   Substantive Due Process violation #1, based on my exercise of moral conscience and religious expression.

In two of the recent marriage redefinition cases, Robichaux v Caldwell (Louisiana), and Bishop v Smith (Oklahoma),   Federal judges discuss the role of animus against a “suspect” class of people in denying them their 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law.    According to these Federal precedents, animus can be shown to exist if  some structural aberration in the law is at issue, like the imposition of wide-ranging and novel deprivations upon the disfavored group or deviation from the historical  territory of the sovereign simply to eliminate privileges that the disfavored group might otherwise enjoy.”    Is it possible that the ruling cohort of the legal community,  in enforcing a blanket legislative preference for Petitioners, has developed just such an animus against contesting Respondents as a class such that boorish courtroom treatment of Respondents is a clear and consistent symptom?    What would it take to prove this?   Certainly the trend in recent legislation in our state has become progressively harsher to the rights of Respondents, who lack sufficient numbers, organization  or economic clout to defend themselves as a class from unjust legislation, and from oppressive court rules designed to systematically suppress evidence that might be unfavorable to the Petitioner.

 

Since my attorney and I made the Christ-honoring choice not to start financial discovery during the grounds phase of the trial, we were not aware of the massive financial abuse at the time the judge made his finding of “irreconcilable differences”.    Learning through family members that the circumstances which triggered my husband to suddenly file his petition after 7 years of status quo were of a superficial nature (his girlfriend was barred from his work country earlier that year for violating immigration laws under my husband’s management accountability),  we wanted to emphasize counseling and reconciliation, which in reality is what remains to be in the true best interest of our children and grandchildren.     However, the system is grossly biased against any genuine reconciliation attempts,  and actually throws up perverse incentives against reconciliation.

Under our state’s statute and relevant case law, dissipation is defined as the misuse of marital funds and assets for a purpose not supportive of the marriage after the marriage has begun an “irretrievable breakdown” (crossing a specific threshold).   My husband had used his senior position in the consulting firm where he worked to install his girlfriend as an employee and she also became the approver of his travel expense reports.   There was significant global travel involved with his work.   It was therefore necessary to include my husband’s company expense reports in the discovery requests, and to hire forensic accountants to adequately document our complex case, given the time constraints in my own fulltime employment.    My husband’s attorney brought several expensive but successful motions aimed at barring both the work and the expert testimony of the accountants, also at limiting the time frame allowed for the dissipation claim, and barring the claim itself.

Even after many adverse rulings, our evidence still represented air-tight documentation that my husband and his girlfriend had established a pattern of taking lavish pleasure trips at least monthly that were not reimbursed as business travel.   Despite substantial precedent in case law that should have precluded the judge from limiting the time frame of our claim, or rejecting the graphic category summaries of our evidence, or dismissing our expert witness accountants in the face of a very complex and employment-entangled international case, the judge ruled against us on all of these, changing his mind twice in ruling on the length of the dissipation period over which he would allow discovery and entertain evidence.   He also disregarded our evidence that my husband continued to spend abusively in contempt of court after a protective stay was issued in October, 2013.    He additionally allowed my husband’s substantial, willful noncompliance with discovery deadlines on multiple occasions and refused motions for continuance in relief of this.    Procedural Due Process and Equal Protection violations #2, 3, 4 and 5.

Then outrageously, and despite the admitted continuous presence of my rival, my husband’s attorney filed a motion in the closing days of the property trial asserting that marriage reconciliation “could have occurred at any point up to the date the petition was filed“, asking that the judge deem the petition filing date as the date of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” and further asking that the many years of dissipation occurring prior to late 2012 be dismissed.   Despite the aforementioned case law that should have precluded this, the judge was only too happy to comply, saying it was justified because I contested the grounds and because, the judge said,  I still do not believe as a matter of conscience or on a biblical basis that our marriage is irretrievable (true enough, not that the law cares what my opinion or the opinion of our adult children is).

The judge had thereby found a way to punish me financially for my convictions, believing those convictions had unduly “punished” my husband.  Clearly, he was making a political example of me.   What should have been a provable $500,000 to $600,000 claim was thereby reduced to only $35,000.   The result was that he ordered a 50/50 split of our assets instead of the 60/40 split that would have preserved my retirement assets intact, and he arbitrarily ordered both our main residence and nearby vacation home sold, disregarding our reasonable recommendations to award the higher value property to my husband for (his) sale, and award the lower-value property to me for an ongoing residence that I could afford to maintain into my approaching retirement.   Substantive Due Process violation #2, based on my exercise of moral conscience and religious expression.

That judicial move, however, transformed our technical appeal into a constitutional appeal, one that caught the empathy of an experienced religious freedom law firm who agreed to take our appeals case.

 

At least one of the recent marriage redefinition case rulings, Bostic v Shaefer (Virginia) goes into an interesting discussion of the precedents defining a fundamental right.    Citing a 1943 Supreme Court case, West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette,  fundamental rights are those which are  “deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty such that neither liberty nor justice would exist if [they were] sacrificed.”   I believe there are numerous fundamental rights stripped from Respondents by the enforcement of the unilateral divorce system, all of which rights had been deeply rooted in the nation’s tradition and history until the enactment of state-by-state unilateral divorce laws commenced 45 years ago.    One does not have to read very far into a piece by Fathers’ Rights advocate Stephen Baskerville to see how basic liberty is routinely stripped without cause from some Respondents.    My own liberty to live in a home I currently own and could well afford with my future finances has been punitively stripped from me by this judge.    My fundamental right to reasonably defend my retirement was arbitrarily stripped from me simply for the crime of showing up in court to defend the sanctity of my marriage, as is my basic constitutional right.   If homosexuals as a class sharing a chosen, non-immutable shared emotional characteristic may claim a fundamental right to get married to the person of their choice (as has been recently ruled in numerous states across the land and allowed by the U.S.  Supreme Court to stand due to lack of review),  then contesting Respondents as a morally-defined and politically disfavored class have a fundamental right to stay married to the person of their choice, absent some just cause proven against them.   This is before even touching my 1st Amendment right to freedom of conscience and religious exercise toward my God-given marriage.

Once handed down,  appellate rulings in divorce cases are readily retrievable online these days from a simple Google or Bing search without a legal subscription service.   Because by 2013, several innocent family members now worked for my husband’s firm, which was likely to be explicitly named in the eventual published case, we filed a motion to proceed with our appeal under a fictitious name, “Jane and John Doe”  and “XYZ Company.”   I love my husband and want to do everything I can to leave the door open for his return to fellowship with the Lord and to reconciliation with our family.   I feel a moral responsibility to pursue this important appeal for the good of society if that’s the Lord’s assignment for me, but I also don’t want to deliberately make myself the direct instrument of retribution.   I believe my role is to stay out of the way of correcting natural consequences God brings to my husband as a result of his own actions, but not to step into that role myself if it can be avoided.   The court made its bias plain that I should have spared my husband of any consequences altogether by readily consenting to what God’s word forbids.   To accomplish this, I should have modeled the principle of disposable covenants for the edification of my watching children and their spouses,  grandchildren and their future spouses.

Whether we win or lose on appeal, public details of my husband’s breach of fiduciary responsibility to his firm is likely to harm his firm’s existing and potential client relationships, given the nature of that business.   Incredibly, my husband’s attorney filed a response actively opposing our motion, even though it was in my husband’s very obvious best interest for the judge to grant the anonymity.

Proverbs 12: 4 –  A capable wife is her husband’s crown, but a wife who causes shame is rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 31: 12 –  The heart of her husband trusts in her.  She brings him good and not harm all the days of her life.

I should say here that my attorney did not feel it was prudent to base our filed anonymity motion on these true family concerns, so he instead filed the motion based on potential damage to my own safety and well-being should there be additional political opponents to our constitutional appeal.    The trial judge erroneously treated our motion as though we had requested that the case be wholly impounded, and therefore denied our motion based on “the public’s right to know”,  which we now have to appeal.

We have also filed several stay motions that the trial court judge denied, which are now going to the appeals court.   My husband and I have each spent about $100,000 so far in legal fees, about 80% of which were incurred in the property / dissipation phase of our two trials where the main issue was my pension and his failure to provide for his own retirement due to dissipation of marital assets.   Tens of thousands of dollars alone were spent on respectively combatting and defending my right as a Respondent to the sort of due process that everyone else takes for granted under the system of justice outside of Family Law Court.

In the meantime, I have taken up a bit of legal research myself in order to be a better-informed consumer of constitutional law services than I was of family law services.  I have sought to record my learnings over this long journey in the hopes of being helpful to others in the future.   I drew inspiration here from reading Judith Brumbaugh’s excellent book, “Judge, Please Don’t Strike that Gavel on My Marriage.”    Judith is an amazing saint who has gone before, back in the 1980’s when she brought what was probably one of the nation’s first religious freedom constitutional challenges to Florida’s unilateral divorce law, which is actually harsher than Illinois’ (unless HB1452 passes in the Illinois Senate this fall).     Judith was cut off early from funds to pay attorney fees, and incredibly she taught herself at the local library to represent herself after she became the victim of a judge who also was determined to make a political example of anyone who would dare contest a “no-fault” divorce based on a biblical stand for her covenant marriage.

FB profile 7xtjw  (SIFC Updateto the praise and glory of God,  the prayers of the saints in Illinois were heard and the 2013-2014 Illinois legislative session ended without passing HB1452 despite its earlier lopsided margin of victory in the state house of representatives.)  This mercy defeats accelerated family destruction and increased poverty that would have otherwise devastated thousands of additional families across the state.

There are some legal environment factors today that I believe are changing by the month concerning marriage rights, equal protection and due process, and are very different now than in those earlier days of unsuccessful constitutional challenge of “no-fault” divorce, which I will cover (attorney advice permitting) in my next post.

Malachi 3:5  –

 “I will come to put you on trial [state family law courts ,who trample My Covenant].   I will be quick to testify against … adulterers, lying witnesses, and those who cheat workers out of their wages and oppress widows and orphans.  I will also testify against those who deprive foreigners of their rights.  None of them fear me,” says Yahweh Tsebaoth  [ the God of Angel Armies].”

I close this post by wryly pointing out that the above promise from God started to be fulfilled in 2014  when Judge Steven Reinhardt of the 9th Federal Circuit called out state unilateral divorce laws in his ruling in Latta v Otter striking down the constitutional vote of the people of the states of Idaho and Nevada to define marriage as one man and one woman.     Standerinfamilycourt is in the process of reviewing all of the 2014 marriage redefinition cases, a time-consuming undertaking!

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Jesus warned that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”.   God will not be mocked!

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall – Part 1

Our Story:  7 Times Around the Jericho Wall- Part3

No Day in Court for (Stander) “Jane Doe”, Our Story – Part 4

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

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Alliance Defending Freedom: Two Ways We Should NOT Respond to the “Redefinition” of Marriage

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FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentary:    This tireless public interest and religious freedom law ministry is revered by this Christian blogger.   Nevertheless, like several of their peer ministries, ADF has the same political blind spot which was recently described by impartial observers such as Eric Metaxas and Rev.  Al Mohler:  for patronage reasons, they won’t publicly acknowledge the 900-lb. gorilla in the room – namely, the impact of “no-fault” divorce, on our mutual traditional marriage cause.    As more marriage redefinition rulings are handed down across the country, that’s begun to cost religious freedom legal ministries like ADF!   Federal 9th Circuit Judge Steven Reinhardt, in fact, called these attorneys out on it just this past week in his ruling on Idaho / Nevada case Latta v. Otter (page 36), as ADF was attempting to represent the State of Idaho’s effort to defend their constitutional definition of marriage which, except for the endorsement of unilateral divorce, mirrored God’s definition.

Matthew 19:4-6 – And [Jesus] answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?   So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore GOD has joined together, let no man separate.” ]

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October 17, 2014 Blog By Alliance Defending Freedom

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Arizona. A ruling today by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick will keep state officials from enforcing a law passed in 1996 and a 2008 constitutional amendment approved by voters that protected marriage as between one man and one woman. Arizona now joins nearly half of the states in the country which have had same-sex marriage imposed upon them by the judiciary and not through the will of the people.

While this news is troubling, there are at least two ways we should NOT respond, because both wrong responses reject three important truths about marriage.

1. Woe is Us!

Don’t mistake me. This is a terrible decision – throwing out 2,000 years of history recognizing marriage as between a man and a woman, disregarding the purpose and role of marriage in society, and prioritizing the sexual desires of adults over giving children the opportunity to grow up with both mom and a dad. “Redefining” marriage will hurt society…..

 

FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentary first of all, it should never be necessary to put quote marks around the word Redefining in the same sense as one would put quote marks around Marriage when applied to the faux versions attributed to homosexuals or polygamists.   Marriage redefinition (along with “prioritizing the sexual desires of adults over giving children the opportunity to grow up with both mom and dad“) has been with us for a long time:  a national heterosexual tradition of some 45 years’ standing!]FB profile 7xtjw 

 

….But hand-wringing, an all-is-lost attitude, pointing fingers, blame shifting, getting angry and verbally attacking those who oppose us – these responses do nothing to build up marriage.

2. Just Throw in the Towel.

Now, more than ever, the pressure is on to give up and accept the new sexual morality. Christian organizations, churches, business people, all of us face a choice – to give up or keep standing for what we know is right, even when it’s unpopular.

There are at least three reasons that both of these responses are wrong:

1. Marriage is marriage. True marriage is between a man and a woman because the two genders coming together sexually in a lifelong commitment separates it from every other relationship.

 

FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentarysadly, there hasn’t been enough legal separation between lifelong commitment coupling and “serial monogamy” coupling in our culture, due to the first wave of marriage redefinition.   Treating the two forms of marriage as equivalently moral is precisely what’s opening up the door to treating other forms of sexual immorality as equal to true marriage.  ]

 

 

…..Only male-female relationships can produce children, and having parents committed to each other is best for children. A woman can be a great mom, but she can never be a dad, and a great dad can never be a mom.

Dr. Russell Moore wrote recently: “We have no authority to revise what Jesus has handed down to us ….

FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentary Indeed!  What Jesus handed down to us was LIFELONG.   Too bad there was not an ADF around in the 1970’s to argue this  point when UMDA – the “Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act” was undermining religious freedom and deconstructing God’s definition of marriage,  on a state-by-state basis.] FB profile 7xtjw

…..Our vision of marriage is not the equivalent of a church constitution and by-laws, adaptable by a majority vote. Marriage is not simply a cultural or legal practice, but is instead an icon of the union between Christ and his church, embedded in the creation (Eph. 5:22-31). Without a Christian vision of marriage, we have no Christian vision of the gospel.”

2.  Marriage is creative, diverse, and beautiful. Marriage is a lifelong union between husband and wife. Humanity has always been, and will always be, composed of men and women. That can’t change, and that’s why the timeless institution of marriage can’t be changed by a court. Marriage celebrates humanity’s diversity, not only because of the complementary of the sexes in marriage, but because throughout history and across cultures, different races and ethnicities have always married.

Yes, the divorce rate is high. Now, more than ever, we must commit to strengthening our own marriages, affirming the value of marriage publicly, and championing the beauty of marriage in our culture.

FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentary My hope is that ADF and peer legal ministries will step up to assist non-offending spouses (who “walk the talk”) to  fight religious discrimination in family law court — at least at the appellate level – -and sign up to combat the unconstitutional stripping of property and parental rights from anyone who dares resist the divorce mill regime in various states….while honoring marriage as “creative, diverse and beautiful.” ] FB profile 7xtjw

3. This is not just about marriage.

Redefining marriage policy is about more than just creating same-sex marriage – it is about deconstructing the role and nature of marriage in our society.

It’s about marginalizing the Christian sexual ethic and enforcing a new sexual morality. Those who disagree with this new morality are first marginalized, then punished. We’re already seeing this happen with the city of Houston issuing subpoenas for pastors’ communications, the ousting of Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich, and attacks on Christian business people, like Rob and Cynthia Gifford of Liberty Ridge Farm, Jim and Mary O’Reilly of Wildflower Inn, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop, Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers, Blaine Adamson of Hands on Originals, Elaine and Jon Huguenin of Elane Photography, and Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of a bakery called Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

For these people, and the many more who will risk everything for their right to live by their faith, we will continue to stand for marriage. And because we understand what marriage is, we will continue to promote the truth, value, and beauty of marriage in our culture.

 

FB profile 7xtjw[Standerinfamilycourt  Blog Commentary But, ADF, you must realize that the same marginalization has been happening for decades to those who attempted to stand up against court-sanctioned adultery (as opposed to homosexuality).   Will you consider standing for those who dare to risk everything to honor their indissoluble wedding vows even when an intrusive government official issues a death certificate on a 30 or 40-yr. marriage and forcibly cleaves an extended multi-generation family for no proven cause?   Will you stand for covenant spouses who are systematically being stripped of their 1st and 14th Amendment rights  to freedom of conscience, equal protection, and parental / property rights for contesting an unjust government intrusion into the life of their family and future generations? ]

Credit:  Alliance Defending Freedom, Scotsdale, AZ

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

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