Category Archives: Equal Protection

Does Abolishing “No-Fault” Have Parallels to Abolishing the Slave Trade?

Amazing-Grace-movie-posterby Standerinfamilycourt

Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Or crush the afflicted at the gate;
For the Lord will plead their case
And take the life of those who rob them.
– Proverbs 22:22-23

Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavor to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, ‘being waxen fat,’ and ‘become gross,’ sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into Hell. In like manner, every one that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskillful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished.”
–  St. Ignatius of Antioch, “Epistle To The Ephesians,” c. 105 A.D.

This blogger can still recall reading  Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin many years ago, while absolutely sobbing at the scene where two slave families were about to be cruelly pulled apart in a commercial transaction and sent to different plantations, with absolutely no respect for the God-joined holy one-flesh bond of matrimony between the two covenant husband and wife entities, and their God-ordained bond with their covenant children.

” ‘Mas’r aint to blame, Chloe, and he’ll take care of you and the poor’ … Here he turned to the rough trundle bed full of little woolly heads, and broke fairly down.  He leaned over the back of the chair, and covered his face with his large hands.   Sobs, heavy, hoarse and loud, shook the chair, and great tears fell through his fingers on the floor: just such tears, sir, as you dropped into the coffin where lay your first-born son;  such tears, woman, as you shed when you heard the cries of your dying babe.   For, sir, he was a man, and you are but another man.   And, woman, though dressed in silk and jewels, you are but a woman, and, in life’s great straits and mighty griefs, ye feel but one sorrow!

” ‘And now, ‘ said Eliza, as she stood the door, ‘I saw my husband only this afternoon, and I little knew then what was to come.  They have pushed him to the very last standing place, and he told me, to-day, that he was going to run away.  Do try, if you can, to get word to him.  Tell him how I went, and why I went; and tell him I’m going to try and find Canada.  You must give my love to him, and tell him, if I never see him again,’ — she turned away, and stood with her back to them for a moment, and then added, in a husky voice, ‘tell him to be as good as he can, and try and meet me in the kingdom of heaven.’  “

Centuries of this cruelty not only offended God, but had severe consequences on the nations involved, such that the regime eventually confronted God’s hand of long-awaited justice in abolishing that offense against humanity.   More importantly, because of a small band of godly saints who were faithful and long-suffering to carry out their Holy Spirit assignments, retaining their resolve and their trust in Him in the face of overwhelming opposition, God’s more severe judgment on at least one nation (and probably two nations) was averted.

And what, exactly, do we mean by “serial polygamy” in this comparison?     Quite simply, it is using man’s immoral civil laws to reject the spouse God joined us to, in order to “marry” another while the rejected spouse lives  – something that Jesus called ongoing adultery at least five separate times in canonized scripture.     There are many excuses offered up for this, and there are even more luminary “men of God” who will tell you it’s okay under “God’s grace” based on some man-contrived excuse.      However,  God repeatedly said, in Old Testament and in New Testament times. it is not okay, nor is it without horrible consequences for families, church and nation.    Those consequences don’t sift through the humanistic excuses in order to selectively apply themselves.    Those consequences ultimately come from the hand of God, as thistles and thorns in the Garden; from the One who entertains none of the human excuses.    He is the One whose hand individually creates each one-flesh union as an inseverable entity, Who then covenants unconditionally with that individual entity, then declares that they will never be two again in this life.    This universal indissolubility of holy matrimony is why Jesus called all non-widowed remarriage adultery — the original parties are still married in God’s eyes, and anyone else subsequently posing as “married to” either of the two original covenant spouses are bearing false witness to the world and they are  defiling their vessels.   Pastors who perform weddings where there is an estranged, living spouse on either side are violating the second commandment by misusing the name of the Lord to attribute to Him a vain act.

Though only one spouse wants out of the  holy matrimony covenant of their youth, a scene similar to the slave sale in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is played out in “family courts” across the land on a daily basis, forcibly pulling covenant spouses from each other, and  children from one of their parents while attempting also to tear and sever the God-joined one-flesh entity created by His hand.   Both are literally reduced to being treated as the chattel property of the prevailing legal regime, with an inexcusable motive to illicitly profit  various parties who are external to the victimized families.

Near the start of SIFC’s post-decree journey through the constitutional appeals case,  amidst outreach efforts to others in the marriage permanence movement,  the establishment of social media pages to advocate for the full repeal of unilateral divorce and to urge profound moral reform in the church, there was also the very influential opportunity to read another book, Amazing Grace by author Eric Metaxas.   This is the story of British Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, who became an unusually strong, spirit-led Christ-follower in the days shortly after being elected to the House of Commons.     Thanks to the author’s vivid capture of the details of Wilberforce’s spiritual awakening, we see the arduous journey which followed, to build a movement in the name of the Lord which ran counter to both the entrenched church and equally-entrenched legal system interests,  and, like today,  this threatened some extremely powerful, wealthy economic interests in both institutions.

Metaxas makes it possible to see the strong parallels of the story of this journey to abolish the slave trade with the struggle we are currently in, to abolish all the church and legal system trappings, along with the special economic interests that are adverse to the kingdom of God, and adverse to the God-established “kingdom” and constitutional rights of covenant families.    This book not only deeply inspired this blogger, but in a very real sense, it provided strong insight into the nature of the battle that lay ahead.   This book is a really good read for everyone in the marriage permanence movement, and our blog post about it will hopefully be a interesting, thought-provoking introduction.

( FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC note:   At the present time, author Eric Metaxas adheres to his Eastern Orthodox upbringing which teaches that holy matrimony is dissoluble under some circumstances including adultery.    He aligned strongly with Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and with the political forces of social conservatives who consider unilateral divorce to be an undesirable thing, but not necessarily the central moral issue of the day, nor an intrinsic religious freedom violation.    He most likely would be surprised to read of his contribution to the movement through the book he has written.   He is in a covenant marriage himself, by true biblical standards. )

There were many prevailing obstacles to justice in America and England in the late 18th century that are remarkably similar to roadblocks the “stander” community and others who advocate the abolition of the vile practice of serial polygamy must successfully confront today, and must skillfully navigate through.    As with Wilberforce and the broad coalition he helped to form,  skill wasn’t everything, because he “battled not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities and dark forces in the spiritual realm“,   just as the apostle Paul warned in Ephesians 6.    God’s hand and awaiting God’s timing were also necessary, so this abomination was very much “prayed down” and “fasted down”,  while the visible events were unfolding by God’s hand in the circumstantial realm over a long period of time.    The encouragement that SIFC would like to leave with readers is the historical evidence that evil, seemingly impossible “mountains” are indeed picked up and thrown into the sea by the hand of God, in response to the faithful prayers, and advocacy efforts of His saints, efforts taking many forms but working together in key ways orchestrated by Him.

So, what all was going on back then to misappropriate the word of God so as to prop up the immoral slave trade?  How did it resemble the backdrop to the moral slide of the church and society so that it broadly institutionalized the sin of marrying another while having a living, estranged true spouse following man’s divorce (that which Jesus clearly and consistently called ongoing adultery)?     Let’s take a look:

  1. Entrenched religious beliefs prevailed that had no true scriptural basis.   England had been a mix of Druid and Catholic rituals for centuries before the Reformation, with Catholicism gaining the upper hand by medieval times.    By the time Wilberforce came of age, it had been about 250 years since Henry VIII had established the Church of England, which retained many characteristics of the Roman Catholic church, despite key doctrinal differences, coming to be known as “High Church” because elaborate liturgy was retained from Roman Catholic liturgy, where the congregation was able to continue worshiping  rather passively rather than pursue true discipleship.    One of the key doctrinal differences between the Church of England and the Rome Church, of course, was the profound disagreement over marriage, both its indissolubility as a sacrament (or not) and the propriety of civil jurisdiction rather than church jurisdiction over it.     Born, as the new Protestant doctrine was, out of a mix of the lusts of Henry and the humanism of Erasmus,  in this particular instance, rightly-divided scripture was still on the side of the Catholics.    However, it was the Anglicans who happened to be and remain in power by 1648 and beyond.   

That said, adherence to Catholicism was still strong in Britain, including belief that priests can absolve sin without the actual cessation of that sin.   Salvation is believed to be imparted by repeated communion rather than a taking up of one’s cross to follow Christ.   Because of the belief that only nuptials between two baptized partners are to be considered “sacramental”, and hence indissoluble,  it is likely that slave marriages were considered dissoluble as best benefitted the trade.

Meanwhile the Westminster Confession of Faith was drafted and ratified in the British Parliament in 1648 just a little more than 100 years after Henry formed the Church of England.   Many aspects of the WCOF were an extrabiblical overreaction to various heresies of Roman Catholicism, while other aspects were appropriate responses to genuine errors in RCC doctrine or to abusive practices that arose in the 300 years just prior, resulting in biblically-supported truth mixed with biblically-unsupported heresy in the total doctrines of the WCOF.

For example, Chapter 3 affirms the Reformed doctrine of predestination: that God foreordained who would be among the elect (and therefore saved), while he passed by those who would be damned for their sins. The confession states that from eternity God did “freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass”.  By God’s decree, “some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.”   As with the Catholics, this doctrine did not promote much soul-care for the Negro slaves, and is biblically unsupported, since there is a distinction between God’s fore-knowledge and fore-ordination.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  – 2 Peter 3:9

Chapter 17 presents the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints”, which holds that it is impossible for those effectually called to “fall away” from the state of grace or, in other words, lose their salvation.  This doctrine, in effect, allowed for the powerful to oppress the helpless, without concern that God would ever hold them accountable, since Jesus  was claimed to have died for their future sins.    As has become the case today, it is popular “wisdom” to claim that people have no hope of living a holy life, so the purpose of grace is to attribute Christ’s righteousness to a passive worshiper who may continue on in their transgressions.     In proper context, the term “perseverance of the saints” (referred to several times in the book of Revelation),  actually means quite the opposite of what is declared in the WCOF.    Scripture repeatedly shows that this perseverance means bearing up under persecution without becoming apostate in response.    Just as the WCOF has the effect of deadening the conscience to proclaiming Christ’s standards for lifelong marital faithfulness as being “too high” to realistically attain in the 21st century,  the Confession had the effect of deadening the conscience of those involved in the slave trade to the sanctity of all human families.

Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.  Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, SO THAT THEY WILL NOT BELIEVE AND BE SAVED.   Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root;  THEY BELIEVE FOR A LITTLE WHILE, AND IN TIME OF TEMPTATION THEY FALL AWAY.   The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.   But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with  perseverance.”    –  Luke 8:11-15

Finally, the pivotal Chapter 24 covers Reformed teaching on marriage and divorce. Marriage is to be heterosexual and monogamous (if consecutively so). The purpose of marriage is to provide for the mutual help of husband and wife, the birth of legitimate children, the growth of the church, and preventing “uncleanness”,  according to the confession.   The confession discourages interfaith marriage with non-Christians, Roman Catholics, or “other idolaters”.   In addition, godly persons should not be “unequally yoked” in marriage to “notoriously wicked” persons.  Incestuous marriage, defined according to biblical guidelines, is also prohibited.  (Heretical parts V and VI hold that the only grounds for divorce are “adultery or willful abandonment by a spouse.” )     Jesus and the prophet Malachi, however, held that men are delegated NO authority to dissolve an unconditional covenant to which God remains a party, nor to sever the one-flesh entity God’s hand created.   Only physical death does that, according to the apostle, Paul.   Hence, any discussion about “grounds” in the WCOF becomes utterly moot before the unchanging marriage  law of God, and Henry, self-proclaimed as the first Head of the Church of England, is exposed as the wicked serial polygamist he actually was all along when measured against the biblical standard.

While great atrocities were involved in capturing slaves and transporting them across the ocean, after which they were often cruelly warehoused and their diseases masked until sold, it is clear that slave traders who forced apart one-flesh spouses, and “family court” judges who do so have much in common.  This is true both morally, and in the consequences to society, as well as to the eventual fate of the whole nation due to the resulting corruption of the progeny of those impacted.

The 2007 film version of Amazing Grace  opens with a narrative graphic which reads, “by the late 18th century over eleven million African men, women and children had been taken from Africa to be used as slaves in the West Indies and American colonies …   The slave trade was considered acceptable by all but a few.     Of these, even fewer were brave enough to speak against it.”

By comparison, between 1970 and 2015 (roughly one-tenth of the elapsed time since the commencement of that trade up to Wilberforce’s day), more than three times as many U.S. families had been forcibly “dissolved” in the “family courts” of the 50 states.   Likewise, all but a few of the Christian citizens of these states considered this practice morally acceptable (and fully effectual in God’s eyes despite much scripture to the contrary).    A small but increasing number of these few began to  develop the courage of conviction to suffer the immense social and economic costs of speaking against it.   

2.  The church was profoundly corrupt and slowly dying.    A church that is founded on heresy, expressly in order to facilitate (and propagate forward) sexual sin, as the Church of England indeed was, is doomed and dying from the outset, unless true revival comes along to rescue it.     So is today’s “mega-church” established for much the same purpose, to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those living in open defiance of God’s laws which they disagree with, while having a cover of what in those days was called piety, and in our day would be called “evangelicalism”.   In far too many of these mega-churches, “church discipline” is called out on the wrong party, such as the repenting prodigal who would leave an adulterous, legalized union to return to his or her covenant family,  and far too many churches are led by men and women who are themselves living in legalized adultery with someone else’s God-joined, one-flesh partner rather than with their own.    The scriptures forbidding even this are re-interpreted to “permit” the abomination of consecutive polygamy in the clergy, rendering any protest against LGBTQ(xyz) excesses, instantly hypocritical.    Hence, the literal “husband of one [living] wife”, understood perfectly and consistently practiced by “less-sophisticated” saints for centuries,  of late becomes “one-woman man” (until tomorrow, at least)  in our contemporary bibles.   God’s amazing sense of humor used adultery matchmaker Ashley Madison to debunk that notion a couple of years ago.   How many of those “one woman man” pastors were removed as a result?

But  as it turns out, revival did come and rescue the corrupt Church of England during Wilberforce’s life, and as it happened, God through various circumstances brought several key people into his life while he was still a boy.    Though he was born and raised in the northern province of York, family hardship brought him to live by the age of ten with a wealthy, aristocratic aunt and uncle in Wimbledon, near London, who were close to George Whitefield and other figures of the first Great Awakening.    Author Metaxas describes the conditions in the English church of Wilberforce’s young manhood thusly:

“One’s ‘spirituality’ was confined to one’s rented pew.    One attended one’s church and one stood and one kneeled and one sat at the proper times and did what was required of one, but to scratch beneath this highly lacquered surface was to venture well beyond the pale and invite stares and whispers and certain banishment.   Wilberforce was from the beginning as serious as he was charming and fun-loving, and his sensitive and intellectual nature was now, at Wimbledon, for the first time fed something far more satisfying than the niceties – the thin gruel and weak tea of High Church Anglicanism.”

So then, what historical forces reduced Christ’s English bride to such a debased state, some 200 years after the Reformation?    Unfortunately, the sad answer seems to be — the Reformation itself.    We’ve already visited the  heretical elements of this church’s creed adopted in that same Parliament 100 years earlier than Wilberforce’s day, which formed a rotten foundation upon which those “rented pews” actually sat.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say,  “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man,  “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?   Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?   But you have dishonored the poor man.  Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?   Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
–  James 2:1-7

While today’s spiritual deadness is clearly driven by the pursuit of sexual immorality that has gained the near-universal complicity of contemporary church leadership,  the spiritual deadness of that day was driven by the bloody, mutual, church leader-led violence between Protestants and Catholics which had given Jesus a truly bad name, and had turned people off to religion altogether, creating this ritualistic veneer that was not allowed to go too deep.     The violence, in turn, was driven by the clergy’s thirst for retaining (or gaining) power over the population, causing religious opponents on both sides to be martyred, and causing a series of wars between the “saints”.      (In “standerinfamilycourt’s”  happier days with evangelical friends and intact covenant family, the oft-played board game “Risk” was jokingly dubbed “Evangel” due to the conflict between Christ’s way of building the kingdom of God versus the counterfeit that had taken hold as an evil fruit of the Reformation where Protestants returned Catholic violence and persecution in-kind. )     Of course, all sinful departure from Christ’s methods, be it sexual or be it violent power-grabs “in the name of Jesus”, leads to a hardening of hearts, we are warned, and this leads to falling away (apostasy), notwithstanding Chapter 17 of the WCOF.    Certainly, Christian-on-Christian violence must have had a devastating and dehumanizing effect on British society in Wilberforce’s day.     Are there not “rented pews” today in the evangelical church?    Is a fee not paid today by the legalized adulterers in the post-unilateral divorce world to occupy seats as an illicit pair or “blended family” that faithful 1 Corinthians 5 church governance would have otherwise denied them unless they severed those faux ties?   Paul, after all, said “do not even eat with such….I have decided to turn [him / them] over to satan, that [his / their] soul(s) may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Britain formally sat under a false state religion, as she still does today.   By failing to maintain her sexual purity, hence her sovereign biblical family structure,  America and other western nations today also sit under a state religion that is not formally acknowledged but is nevertheless very real in asserting its antichrist power over all of society.    That state religion is secular humanism.    And secular humanism just loves to play “dress up” these days in Baptist, Pentecostal and mainline “Christian” garb–and even Catholic frocks, of late, in the form of Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia.

3.  A tiny (deemed) “cult” slowly became instrumental in moving the culture.    The evangelical aunt and uncle who took Wilberforce in as a boy was (providentially) childless, which made the young man the sole heir to their homes and fortune when they “graduated to heaven”.    This put great financial assets into his hands, as well as influential and powerful friends of godly character into his life.  He was best friends from university days with William Pitt, his agnostic contemporary who eventually became Prime Minister.      Wilberforce came to faith, and received Spirit-led discipleship as a young MP  under the direct influence of Whitefield, the Wesleys, and ex-slave trader, the Rev. John Newton.    All true disciples of Jesus come to understand that every scrap of time, treasure and talent that God pours into a life ultimately belongs to Him, loaned, as it were, for the purpose of building up the kingdom of God.    As did the three biblical slaves with the varying number of “talents” given by their master, we will one day give an account for our stewardship of these resources.   Instead of suppressing truth to those under our care for ill-gotten gain, and appeasing the ungodly resource-holders to build our own vast empire (without the slightest regard for these souls), we are expected to invest what we already have been given into helping deliver as many souls as possible safely into the doors of the great banquet hall where the wedding supper of the Lamb is to be held.    Wilberforce understood this, as did the other Spirit-led instigators of the First Great Awakening and the abolition movement.

It wasn’t long before Wilberforce felt led to sell his inherited properties and use the proceeds to establish a highly visible home church community, known as the Clapham fellowship,  on his friends’ adjoining properties, where true discipleship under the ministry of a community chaplain was fostered in the suburbs of London.    It also wasn’t long before the entrenched interests were derisively labeling the community of believers Wilberforce led, a “cult”.    Why was Wiberforce’s  physical community of believers so influential ?    “Standerinfamilycourt” believes it is because he established a very visible spiritual organism within that compound-based community, much like the 1st – 4th century church, where everyone could see the Christ-centered life walked out again.    Some 300 years before the internet could make the same sort of thing visible online, and draw like-minded but geographically dispersed people together for conferences,  this visibility from such a community was very important to influencing culture, by example.

(FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC note:The tiny Spirit-led wing of the body of Christ in that day was dubbed “Methodism”, which was an ecclesiastical slur.    We all know what eventually happened to “Methodism” in our day, following the Second Great Awakening,  and what in our day has even happened to Pentecostalism, as it followed “Methodism” in becoming the “Church of Thyratira” in the late 20th century, who today labels the interfaith community of covenant marriage standers–which is largely virtual due to the commonplace shunning of outspoken members by conventional church bodies, having its own pastors and lay leaders therefore, a “cult”.)

4.  The oppressed victims of the system were utterly dehumanized.   In the book, pages 96-100 detailed the inhumane conditions in which hundreds of captured slaves were chained together and packed into the lower airless holds of a slave ship with inadequate sanitary provisions, little food and no potable water.    These conditions culminated in the deplorable tale of the insurance fraud that was carried out on the high sea in 1781 aboard a Jamaica-bound slave ship named the Zong.   It was routine for any human dying aboard a ship to be buried in the ocean, whether a slave or not.  However, in this instance so many slaves were becoming ill that more than 100 live slaves were thrown overboard in order that insurance proceeds would replace the lost revenue from the slaves that had expired due to inhumane conditions.    The public exposure from the foiling of that fraud in English court the next year turned out to be a small amount of good out of a massively tragic crime against humanity.     A Cambridge protégé of Wilberforce’s, a young man named Thomas Clarkson, served as the “cub reporter” in documenting facts and evidence against the slave trade:

“He climbed aboard slave ships and measured the spaces allotted for the slaves; he purchased the ghastliest instruments of restraint and torture, from manacles and shackles to thumbscrews and branding irons.  There was a device to pry open the mouths of slaves who refused to eat. ”
(Page 116).

AG_Metaxas_Photo2.jpeg

It is unfortunate that the opportunities to expose in great detail the atrocities that routinely go on in “family courts” across the land are few and extremely costly.    Nevertheless, there are a few of us with either  the financial means or  time and pro se determination to resist the system,  allowing our case to go to trial for that very purpose.     Most county courthouses will not allow non-lawyers to take cell phones past a security checkpoint, yet in trial we will use the time (sometimes days) sitting in court to take notes on other cases we may observe, and some of us will go to the expense of obtaining the electronic transcript from our own case.     In the book, “Stolen Vows” by Judy Parejko (2001),  the author chronicles the abuses she observed as a court-appointed mediator.    Other authors such as Stephen Baskerville have written powerful books and articles exposing details of the corruption under which families are legally shredded.   In two blog pieces we shared in 2014 from The Public Discourse, a mother relates how she was stripped of her children for the noxious purpose of awarding custody to her homosexual husband and his same-sex partner.     Similarly, another article in the publication tracked the commonly-occurring instances of children being stripped from a blameless father who didn’t want the divorce and custody given to the mother whose live-in boyfriend committed violence and molestation of the children, in a cruel mockery of their “best interest”.    The dehumanization is well-captured in this crass excerpt from an appellate opinion handed down in an early constitutional challenge of the “no-fault” 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.”
Walton v Walton, California (1970-1972)  28 Cal. App.3d 108

5. Massive economic interests were also deeply entrenched.    Although King George III was a devout Christian and had genuine concerns about the slave trade, the Crown had substantial revenue interests in the sugar plantations of the British West Indies, as did the Church of England herself.      Powerful members of Parliament had personal revenue interests either in the plantations or in profits from the slave trade or related maritime industries.   Port towns like Liverpool and Bristol were heavily dependent on the trade, much like some of the state capitol cities that would suffer economically today from a likely much-smaller government complex that would result from ceasing the societally-corrosive practice of forcing families apart without provable just cause.     In addition to this, it should sound quite familiar that the atrocities, as soon as documentation of horrifying details began to be publicly exposed, would be propped up (as an argument against doing the right thing and abolishing them) by playing one jurisdiction off against a neighboring jurisdiction.   It was argued that abolishing the slave trade in Britain would be a boon to the slave trade in France.    Ignored was the fact that a powerful moral example would be advanced (with accompanying publicity) by repeal in one or two states to start, and that societal,  as well as fiscal benefits– in the contemporary instance, would be reaped by the repenting jurisdiction(s).    The difficult but successful solution for Wilberforce’s allies was to relentlessly work the issue in both Britain and France.

Similarly,  the unilateral divorce industry amounts to more than $100 billion a year, directly benefitting members of the Bar, and a vast army of court mediators, social workers, mental health professionals, book-sellers, and even ministries.    This financial boon for a few, at the expense of society as a whole, comes at a cost of $200+ billion a year in transferred social costs to all taxpayers,  state and Federal.  These well-heeled political interests virtually own the press and have the means to  easily flood the media with emotional pleas for “abuse victims” whom, they moan, will be “trapped in abusive marriages”  if they should ever be forced to prove with tangible evidence that their marriage is abusive.     These misleading articles largely go unrebutted, due to entrenched interests even within the “faith, family and freedom” ministries and family policy councils in various states across the land.  The vast majority of these ministries decline to become involved in the repeal of unilateral divorce or the defense of its religious free exercise victims, either in prioritization of funding or in their public media output, even when there is a repeal bill active in their state legislature.    For example,  the family policy group, Texas Values (affiliated with James Dobson’s organization, Family Policy Alliance)  sent their president to testify before a 2017 legislative committee that they supported repeal, but not one written word was publicly released to refute the barrage of negative press against HB93 in that state.    All of the financial resources instead went toward battling issues like transgender bathroom bills, remarkably seen as more of a threat than the laws that directly order the literal shredding of families.     Although this reluctance to publicly advocate for the repeal of unilateral divorce laws may have varying factors based on the political climate and carefully-built political relationships in each state, the common issue seems to be a fear that large donors could be offended by marriage permanence efforts meaningfully impacting heterosexual family policy, as well as the false belief that there is likely not enough funding available through millions of small, passionate donors to offset such feared losses–despite the million or so new families decimated each year by forced divorce who would love to donate regularly to an organization showing true commitment to engaging their cause in a meaningful way.

Just imagine if the abolitionist movement had consisted of donation-based provincial councils tasked primarily with all the issues of managing the evil fallouts of the slave trade on society, who deemed abolition too unreachable a goal, so that they busied themselves with promoting legislation to increase the size of the slave berths aboard the ships, install more porta-potties, only allow slave traders to take people who didn’t have minor children in the hut,  et cetera— and doing so while reporting in to a Church of England board (who at the end of the day was financially-invested in preserving the trade).    If one can imagine this, our description seems quite analogous to the apparent relationship between some of these state FPC’s and Dobson’s Focus on the Family organization.

(FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC note:  As of the date of this writing, “standerinfamilycourt” has met two of the executive directors of state family policy councils face-to-face, and has hopes of meeting several more in the coming months and years to learn as much as possible about their constraints, to be of service where mutually beneficial, and to encourage them to diversify their donor base to include those in our movement so that they can act more boldly in the marriage permanence realm.)

6.  God put together quite a colorful and diversely-tasked team.
When the Most High hears the cry of the afflicted and establishes His timeline for deliverance, everyone involved can count on divine appointments taking place.    He started assembling the abolition team when its most visible “champion” was just a small boy.   He began by tapping famous figures of the first Great Awakening in Britain, leading some slave traders to repentance and restitution, and surrounding those with born-again relatives in Wilberforce’s extended family.   To these, He added Christian attorneys, writers, artisans, poets, former slaves and doctors.  Wives of aristocrats opened their homes to bring these co-laborers together and make strategic introductions across an overseas network and even across social classes.  Each of these called individuals providentially contributed their gifts to the overall effort,  some prominently and some in the background.    Much like some in the marriage permanence movement who today create striking memes that drive home a point in social media, even the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood was tapped into service to create the iconic badge-like image “Am I Not A Man and a Brother?”  that found its way onto all sorts of popular items that were sold at the time.

In a very similar way,  the Lord has been bringing together 21st century artists, writers, bible scholars, linguists, in-place and displaced pastors, seminary professors, legal students, researchers, meeting organizers, videographers, conservative thought leaders and lecturers, courthouse monitors, conference hosts, legislators, constitutional attorneys and family policy directors to carry out a diverse range of divine assignments,  coordinated by the hand of God to one day topple the “Jericho Wall” of unilateral divorce.    Many of these groups of the like-minded would not interact with or even be aware of other groups if He also didn’t divinely provide individuals to form a bridge between them, yet He’s using some individuals to facilitate that very necessary function as well.    Instead of stately mansions where figures are invited and introductions are made, He is using technology and alternative media platforms to bring diverse co-laborers together.

7.  Reeking, shameless hypocrisy was the order of the day in the established church.     We have already described above, the profound moral decay in the Church of England, and the reasons behind it.    Here we will focus on some of what it took to break through that in the famous scene from the movie that was based on the book.    The majority of the power holders in the British Parliament were at least nominal members of the Church of England, while the handful of actual Christ followers who were influenced by the leadership of John Newton, the Wesley brothers, and George Whitefield formed house churches  such as the community at Clapham, which also had some wealthy and influential members in addition to Wilberforce.    They lived by godly example,  using large amounts of their wealth for the public good,  and maintaining sexual purity in their relationships, which really stood out in society, while they maintained warm friendships with the “lukewarm”, those who derisively called them “Methodists” and accused them of being a “cult”.     At an opportune time, Wilberforce and his Clapham peers arranged the famous boat tour of the harbor, complete with stringed quartet, wine and appetizers and full ballroom regalia.    This grand party was soon assaulted with the pungency of that which they would have preferred remain insulated from, as the party barge Reliant suddenly pulled up beside a slave ship called the Madagascar that evening.    No longer could the British ruling class and their consorts feign ignorance of the dehumanization and shipboard death that was taking place, literally under their noses.     This event, occurring in the middle of the 20-year abolition battle, required the development of quite a few well-networked allies of the cause in high and low rank in order to pull such a scene off.

Two events occurred in 2017 that could prove significant, and might be somewhat analogous to that unsavory boat party.     Repeal bills to redefine “no-fault” divorce back to its originally-intended (or at least, publicly-advertised) contours were introduced in two southwest states.    Partial repeal attempts had occurred in Michigan in 2006 and Iowa in 2013 but without much publicity that wasn’t rabidly oppositional.     What made the 2017 effort a bit different is that instead of a family policy ministry sponsoring the bills, one was introduced by an actual constitutional attorney-turned-legislator, and he brought a parade of constitutional attorneys to the committee podium who testified to the constitutional violations that riddle current law, which suitably-framed the testimony of the family victims of unilateral divorce who also testified.    This time, the hours of this testimony have been captured and posted to you-tube, through the efforts of local marriage permanence activists.     This is a bit remarkable because the family-shredding industry has been accustomed to a thick shroud of darkness whenever their empire is threatened.     Also remarkable is that every one of the churches in both states were so occupied with “rebuilding a culture of marriage” in their congregations, that none of them saw any worthwhile involvement in seeing that either bill to end the forced divorces of their members might come to an embarrassing Republican-dominated floor vote, letting them both die for this session.

Then in August, the Southern Baptist-allied Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood introduced The Nashville Statement, a manifesto taking dead aim at all the incarnations of homosexual practice, while odiferously looking the other way at prevalence of clergy-condoned (and clergy-practiced) serial polygamy that has destroyed the family structure in the evangelical church, hiding the destruction behind an adulterous thin veneer through which mass shootings, child-trafficking and transsexualism is all-too-prone to puncture.    There have been earlier manifesto campaigns in recent years, but this one was quite ill-timed, driven primarily by visceral reaction to the bathroom bills, but while unresolved memories were still fresh before the American public of the infamous serial polygamist, Kim Davis’ tone-deaf declaration in 2015 that she would “lose her soul” if she dared insult the holiness of God by issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals.   That had been an event which had suddenly reduced  the Leftist press to quoting scripture on major network newscasts.   Though the Who’s Who of the evangelical and Catholic worlds vigorously endorsed and signed the 2017 manifesto (which brazenly declared condoning homosexual practice as profoundly inconsistent with following Christ),  the CBMW has received scathing and voluminous public criticism as well as negative press coverage from both the scornful Left and the God-fearing Right.     (From this blogger, “standerinfamilycourt”, the celebrated and learned seminarians on the board of CBMW received a book called “One Flesh” by Joe Fogel, and a frank, admonishing letter.)

Meanwhile, in the Roman Catholic Church, which has been so historically important to all moral reform of family laws, the release of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia was causing deep despair and bewilderment among Christ-following Catholics over the Pope’s bid to liberalize clergy practices toward remarriage adulterers in those congregations, by liberalizing even further the vile practice of “annulment” and to allow those civilly “married” to the covenant spouses of others to take communion — a direct affront to Paul’s admonition about receiving the body and blood of Christ in an unworthy manner,  and of his further admonition that no unrepentant adulterer will inherit the kingdom of God.    The hypocrisy involved with Amoris was the preposterous chorus of Vatican “assurance” that changing church “practice” was not tantamount to changing church “doctrine”.      Since the only ministry with a national voice to publicly support the two unilateral divorce repeal bills was the Catholic-founded Ruth Institute,  we can only hope that this unfortunate and significant turn of events cements the desire for close alliance with the like-minded “cult” of evangelicals in the marriage permanence movement.

8.  Prayer and fasting was just as important as activism, if not more so.  The great John Wesley wrote Wilberforce twice, the first time near the start of his abolition journey, and also a few days before Wesley passed away.    Wesley wanted to be certain that Wilberforce understood that he battled not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities; dark forces in the heavenly realm.     He put Wilberforce on prophetic notice that there will be demonic opposition at every turn, but urged him to persevere.    Much of the reason that abolition took as long as it did once the organized campaign was underway can be attributed to intervening events and demonic distractions, but still the battle was the Lord’s.

The current battle seems to boil down to an unrelenting conflict between the choice to surgically-excise the disease itself or manage the symptoms to reduce human suffering and impacts on society.    There is a widespread assumption that the disease itself is inoperable, and an almost irresistable temptation to hold to a form of godliness but deny His power.    These are strongholds that the Lord will use the fasters and the faithful prayers in our movement to pull down supernaturally.

9.  Bringing (and keeping) a diverse coalition together was a key role that Wilberforce played as a leader in the movement.    As described earlier, God Himself started the process of bringing the abolitionist movement figures together two or three decades ahead of Wilberforce signing on, but He appointed key individuals (including Wilberforce) to build it to “critical mass” and keep it together over the arduous period of time needed to sustain a successful effort.     He seemed to provide a clear focal point to the various constituencies (which included Quakers, Anglicans, “Methodists”, just to use the diverse religious interests as an example) to what God wanted, and this took a lot of integrity, often unpopular integrity.     At the end of the day, he had the humility to overcome his own discouragement at setbacks to pull it off without backing down.    He had a thick skin, which is a quality almost as rare as focus and integrity, but indispensable because of the need to also manage the criticism or reluctance of insiders.

At the present time, if there is a Wilberforce-like individual to galvanize the factions and constituencies in the movement, it’s likely that this person is still developing and emerging.   Those who presently have the insight to visualize how the like-minded groups can and should be working together are obscure and seem not well-placed at this time.    There are bridges to build between the traditional Catholic leaders, who have a national voice but presently insufficient political power, and the small body of enlightened evangelicals in the movement who part company with the “reformed” evangelicals on the moral validity of non-widowed remarriage.   There are traditional differences to manage over side issues like the authority of the Pope and the validity or morality of “annulment” versus the evangelical principle of sola scriptura where scripture plainly forbids both doctrines.   Many of the national voices for divorce reform would prefer to focus on households with minor children, while setting aside the issue of ongoing 1st and 14th amendment violations against grandparent marriages which full repeal would rectify, and they have differences with those in the movement who consider divorce-remarriages immoral (as Jesus plainly did) due to concern for the children born of legalized adultery.

State legislators are emerging with a courageous vision for repeal, but perhaps are not yet well-enough connected with those who can lend them effective support, especially in the area of getting churches onboard with outright repeal efforts.    Far too few churches of any type are involved on the state level, and a great many erroneously believe that God “instituted” or “provided for” divorce.    The majority of “standers” and those who have repented of adulterous “marriages” are estranged from their churches, either by their own choice not to sit under deceived leadership, or because they’ve been formally or informally shunned for being perceived as a
“sower of disunity”.   In response, many such individuals in the movement do not consider contemporary church structure (what they derisively call the “pulpit / pew hireling model”) to be biblically or morally valid.

Many in the movement also do not think political activity of any type is of God.    State family policy groups tend to be underfunded and perhaps in need of diversifying their support.    The politically-connected national voices are sympathetic to repeal, but constantly get distracted by the symptoms of the disease, particularly each new emerging horror from rabid, militant homosexualism.    Other allied groups are the Parents’ Rights groups who want legal relief from these onerous laws, but aren’t necessarily in the repeal camp, and the divorced-and-remarried activists sympathetic to repeal efforts who are somehow finding the grace to work with the celibate “standers” who do not consider those subsequent civil-only unions biblically valid.   We each need to faithfully keep doing our perceived, assigned roles and keep praying to God for the break-through that pulls all of it together effectively.     Even a celibate, faithful stander who is not engaged in any other activity at all, except to serve others, makes a very loud statement to this culture, if they are consistent and are doing it out of a godly motivation.   

10.  It took decades of unrelenting effort and dedication to prevail.   As witnessed by a quote from the book,

“The line between courageous faith and foolish idealism is, almost by definition, on angstrom wide.    Wilberforce was quite right that a flame had been kindled and would not go out until it had done its work, but he had no idea that it would be twenty torturous years in the burning before its work was done.   And if the ‘work’ in question was not the abolition of the slave trade but the abolition of slavery itself, the flame would continue burning for another forty-five years.”
(Page 122)

abolition of such a profoundly immoral institution was carried out on many battlefronts and required decades to bring about.    

By comparison, the dastardly and covert political events that stripped U.S. families of their most basic rights to liberty, property, free religious exercise, free association, right to jury trial when civilly accused, both procedural and substantive due process, and equal protection under the law, occurred less than 50 years ago.    The hope is that technology and God’s hand will accelerate the formidable process of overthrowing the regime, and that incremental reform efforts will fall by the wayside as time-wasters.    In the past ten years, there have been full or partial repeal efforts in at least four states, including Michigan, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma.   The early efforts were abandoned, but hopefully the latter efforts will persist and gain support as various groups gain insight in how best to work together.    Only God could pull off the task of full repeal in all 50 states, but that’s no excuse not to work toward it in faith with our eyes firmly fixed on the Almighty.   If a few states repeal, momentum can certainly be gained, but opposition can be expected to grow more fiercely as well.    As with ending the slave trade, the renewed moral authority of a chastened and repented collective church is going to be crucial, and there are many tactical steps the organized church could take to hasten the political process.    (This last topic will be covered in a future post.)

Recalling the wicked false analogy drawn by the LGBT movement to justify their immoral, totalitarian political aims by comparing their vision to the U.S. civil rights movement, “standerinfamilycourt” has made these parallels with much fear and trembling before the Lord, trusting that this particular analogy is utterly valid, and is actually like-for-like.    May God’s will be done for our covenant families and for our ravaged nation.

Your kingdom come.   Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
– Matthew 6:10

 

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

 

Will They Do It? Another State Attempts to Repeal Unilateral Divorce

KrauseFamilyby Standerinfamilycourt

It appears that the first major effort since 2006 by a state legislator to roll back so-called “no fault” (unilateral divorce) has been underway since the last session of Texas legislature, sponsored by Rep. Matt Krause, recently re-elected to a third term.

Rep Krause is the son of a Baptist pastor who attended Liberty University School of Law and is a constitutional attorney who opened up a branch of the Christian legal defense firm Liberty Counsel in Fort Worth, TX.  The  Krauses have four young children and are in their mid-thirties.

From a December 28 post by a local news service:

A one-page bill, filed by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, will make it harder for couples to separate, by ending [the “ground” of]  “insupportability”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC: (“insupportability” is functionally equivalent to the civil charge of  “irreconcilable differences” in most other states.  Liberal bias in the press coverage often deceitfully implies mutuality in the assessment, by paraphrasing in terms like  “the couple can no longer stand” to live with each other.)

Per the Texas Statute, as currently enacted:

Sec. 6.001.  INSUPPORTABILITY.  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.   Enacted, 1997

At some point between the original 1970 enactment of unilateral divorce in Texas and 1997, there was a re-write of the statute which Judy Parejko described in her 2001 book, “Stolen Vows”,  where the provision for mutuality in the petition was surrepetitiously  taken out of the enacted language.    From Day 1, the members of the Texas Bar refused to implement the law on that enacted basis, until they finally succeeded in changing it, just prior to the time that attorney Ed Truncellito brought his failed constitutional challenge of the false language in a 2000 case.    FB profile 7xtjw

The local article continues:

Krause says ending no-fault divorces would keep the family together as well as add protection to the spouse who might not want to split up.

“There needs to be some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense,” said Rep. Krause, who filed the same bill last session.   He hopes lawmakers will pick up the issue earlier in the 2017 Legislative session.

He also filed a bill to extend the waiting period for a divorce from 60 days to 180 days.

MKrauseFB_post

What would a successful effort by Rep. Krause mean to the community of covenant marriage standers, also to repenting prodigals, in the highly unlikely event that this attempt to repeal “no-fault” (unilateral, non-consenting) divorce succeeds in Texas?  As is all too typical in the liberal press, this local article was written in such a way as to misinform the public on both sides of the issue.
Success is actually highly unlikely, especially without ardent support from the churches of Texas, who are more likely to ignore the bill, or give it only tepid support.   We attempted to contact Rep. Krause through his Facebook page, to ask him if he at least had the support of his state family policy council, but he did not respond:

We would like to follow the progress of your bill, Rep. Krause. What is the bill #, if we may ask ?

Another question: are you familiar with what author Judy Parejko wrote in her 2001 book, “Stolen Vows” about the original statute language in Texas,and the contrary way it was implemented?

Are there any Family Policy groups supporting you at all?

Thanks, and Godspeed! 
“standerinfamilycourt”

We must nevertheless keep praying for the coast-to-coast repeal of unilateral divorce.    The bill before the Texas legislature, introduced by Rep. Krause is HB93, whose progress can be followed here.    It is telling that its sponsor would like this bill to come up for a vote “earlier in the 2017 session.”    That’s because he had to re-introduce it, since it failed to be brought to a vote in the prior session.

 

TX HB93_2017

Texas does indeed have a family policy council:

Texas
Texas Values
Jonathan Saenz, President
900 Congress, Ste. 220
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-478-2220
info@txvalues.org
txvalues.org

The 85th Texas Legislature is dominated by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, so grass-roots citizen efforts to support this bill would appear to be fairly effective, notwithstanding the stiff, well-financed opposition that is likely to come from the Texas Bar Association and the ABA.    We would strongly encourage our page followers living in Texas to take several practical steps to give this bill a chance for enactment:

–  go to your pastor and make sure he is aware of this bill.   It seems to be getting some publicity, but mostly biased and unfair publicity.   Ask him to contact Texas Values and state legislators in support of it.   Make sure your pastor understands the connection between unilateral divorce and gay marriage / threats to religious liberty, and that “Respondents” to a unilateral divorce petition were the very first Christians to lose their religious liberty on the altars of the Sexual Revolution.

contact Texas Values yourself, and ask them to support the bill with publicity spend and legislator contacts.  To their extreme credit, their page does call out unilateral divorce as an issue.    To their discredit, a perusal of their page shows that they’ve not done a blog piece on the bill from the time it was filed in November, 2016 to-date.   (You may also need to point out the religious liberty issue to them, and remind them of what was documented in the early constitutional challenge cases by actual Texas judges in the 1970’s.

– do the obvious and keep pressure on your state legislators to support the bill.   The other side will most certainly be doing so.

re-share this post, and ecourage everyone you know to do the same.

maintain supportive contact with Rep. Krause through the link to his page that we provided above.   Pray for him, and let him know it.

For now, we just make a few practical point-outs:

(1) If this succeeds, it’s a necessary matter for full repentence as a nation (and more importantly as a CHURCH) to help stay God’s hand of judgment on this nation at its true root.

(2) The last state to make this sort of attempt was Michigan in 2006. Despite the lonely backing of the Family Research Council, the effort was defeated by heavy, well-funded opposition from the Michigan Bar who argued that people would simply cross state lines to get their “blameless” divorce, saddling the state later on with administering it. (Ironically, most of the fee revenue to attorneys comes for years after the divorce if there are children involved — so this argument, while true in its first point was spurious and dishonest in its totality – just like this article.)

(3) Make no mistake, unless there is an option preserved for MUTUALLY ending a civil-only marriage by agreed peitition with agreed terms (only), this will make it infinitely more costly to repent of an adulterous or sodomus union entered into with someone else’s spouse. Imagine going into family court with a formal charge of adultery saying “I’m the adulterer, and she is as well, because only death dissolves her original covenant marriage, not the State of Texas, Your Honor.” (No 20th-21st century judge has ever cared that the bible makes it clear that remarriage is an ongoing state of adultery, as Jesus repeated in the same words at least 3 recorded times, and that dying in this state is a matter of heaven-or-hell, as Paul stated at least twice.)   There was a time when our judges did know this, and when they ruled accordingly.

(4) Repenting prodigals under Texas jurisdiction will need to be prepared to live apart from their noncovenant, counterfeit mate immediately, and for 3 years thereafter if the forced unilateral clause is removed without replacing it with a true mutual “no fault” petition — which (contrary to the bias of the local article), NO state has ever had.
(**Except for Texas, as noted above, but only on the statute books, not in practice or interpretation).
Hopefully, repenting prodigals will realize that man’s law is inferior to God’s law and that the latter is all that is required to live morally and righteously with their true, God-joined spouse. — Expect legal hiccups for the covenant family and fiery censure from the apostate church in the meantime! Here’s where the voice of true Christ-followers in the marriage permanence community is going to need to be more grounded and resolute than ever.

(5) No state is likely to gain any traction on this issue until the neighboring states do. And that’s unlikely until the church stops performing adulterous weddings or signing civil marriage licenses, thereby boycotting the culture of serial polygamy and all of its entrenched instruments including state “jurisdiction”.

Currently, fault-based divorces in Texas must fall into one of six categories: adultery, cruelty, abandonment and a felony conviction, living apart for at least three years or confinement to a mental hospital.    Rep. Krause was also quoted on January 8 by Maria Anglin of the San Antonio Express-News as saying he’d like for the three years to be reduced to one year if the petition alleges abandonment – in our opinion, not an improvement since most experts say that the average length of an extramarital infatuation is two years.   Texas is one of the few major states that still offers fault-based divorce, with Illinois repealing all fault-based grounds in 2015 in a profoundly immoral overhaul of its “family laws”.

We will do our best to establish contact with Rep. Krause and with Texas Values, so that we can keep you informed of progress.

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

Legal Glossary for Disenfranchised “Respondents” Fighting for their Marriage & Family

 

 

constitution-burningReagan

Prayer for Rescue from Enemies.   A Psalm of David.

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.
Take hold of buckler and shield

And rise up for my help.

Psalm 35:1-2  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Respondent Memeby Standerinfamilycourt

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.   (Wherever a legal term with significant meaning and constitutional  implication has been used in general discussion, it is bolded and italicized.  On the other hand, wherever gratuitous terms from the statute are used that are vaguely defined, and are accepted as true by assertion and inference only – example: “irretrievable breakdown”,  they are left in normal font. )

ABSTRACT:

Two elements render unilateral divorce laws unconstitutional in all or most states:

(1)  availability of “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for dissolution of marriage  in contested cases

(2) the exclusion of marital fault as a factor in determining disputed property and child welfare matters

These elements violate several constitutionally-protected fundamental rights owed to non-offending Respondents in a divorce case, and do so without a compelling government interest.


Innocent spouses who have found themselves on the receiving end of an offending spouse’s unilateral divorce petition are treated civilly by the court only so long as they don’t contest the “irreconcilable differences” allegation, and don’t mind splitting the marital estate 50/50 regardless of serious fault or financial abuse .  Sometimes Respondents can work out something more favorable than 50/50 with a fair-minded spouse.   Often, however, due to the Petitioner’s spite, which is enabled by  the resulting unbalanced legal preference afforded when marital fault is excluded by statute from being considered in property settlement,  or by unscrupulous influence from the opposing attorney,  or by depleted assets due to the offending spouse’s gross financial abuse,  and/or  biased early rulings by the judge,  a compensatory split is not possible and a trial ensues to preserve constitutional protections.   (In this Respondent/”stander’s” case, it was all of the above circumstances.)

If you are a religious or moral objector to divorce, or there has been significant financial abuse that the court wrongfully declined to consider,  a constitutional appeal may be appropriate.    Forty-plus years of such cases challenging the constitutionality of the state laws have failed in appeals because the aggrieved spouse and their attorneys may not have realized what is required for the courts to actually give a Respondent’s constitutional rights sufficient consideration to outweigh the legislative objectives of the enacted laws.    Case law defining these terms in a way that could be beneficial to non-offending divorce Respondents, as a class, has only emerged fairly recently, particularly in cases involving marriage rights.   (See Part 1 and Part 2 of our Constitutional Case History.)

 

What follows below are some legal definitions and case citations that may be useful to a Respondent in seeking constitutional relief against the sort of judicial favoritism overwhelmingly shown to Petitioners under the prevailing system.    These definitions may help in persuading a judge to go beyond applying a “rational basis” standard of review to the appeal.    If this can be accomplished, the civil authority must then bring evidence that the results of the law match the intent of the law, and that there was not a more effective and less constitutionally-invasive alternative of accomplishing the objectives of the law.

It is very difficult to get consideration as a disfavored class outside of religious or race/gender/nationality protections, but once this is achieved, it becomes pretty difficult for the state to meet the more discerning and demanding tests that result.   Someday, sooner or later,  this overlooked issue will topple a state’s unconscionable unilateral divorce laws.    High courts normally require “narrow tailoring” of a law to meet its stated objective, but various features of existing “no-fault” laws generally paint a very broad brush stroke, with widespread disparate impact, in order to favor a small ideological minority such as homosexuals or battered spouses  at the expense of everyone else, including taxpayers and society at large.

 

Respondent – the term given to a defendant in a civil divorce case as a result of the unilateral divorce laws.    Respondents seem to need a special name to denote for the legal community the singling out versus ordinary defendants because they have fewer constitutional protections than any other class of civil or criminal defendant.  This is in order to give intentional legal preference to the Petitioner in the event the litigation is contested.

 

Standard of Review – a defined process courts must follow to determine whether there is sufficient justification to impair the 14th Amendment constitutional protections of an individual adversely impacted by a law that favors one group over another

Strict Scrutiny –  the most favorable standard of review to Respondents as a class, or as individuals who have been denied their fundamental rights (religious expression, parental sovereignty, family privacy, defense against a civil charge, defense of property).    For a law to pass the test as constitutional under this level of review, the civil authority must prove that the law serves a “compelling” purpose, and that the means chosen to accomplish that purpose is the “least restrictive” alternative available.   This more exacting standard of review must be applied where a Respondent demonstrates that a clearly-defined fundamental right has been impaired or denied, or that their free exercise of religion has been substantially burdened.   (See also “RFRA” below).

Heightened Scrutiny –  standard of review that is analogous to Strict Scrutiny.

Korematsu v United States (1944) U.S. Supreme Court         (heinously, the compelling interest test was deemed to be met which allowed the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII)

Burwell v Hobby Lobby (2014) U.S. Supreme Court                                Korte v Sebelius (2013)  U.S. 7th Circuit

 

“Suspect Class” & “Quasi-Suspect Class”–  an aggrieved class of citizens who are deemed by the court to be entitled to the protection of a heightened standard of judicial review due to one or more of several factors:

To prevail here, it needs to be shown that Respondents can be identified as a minority class that shares much of the following experience….

(1) longstanding pattern of animus or systemic discrimination,          (2) politically weak and legislatively / societally disfavored,                  (3) some disfavored immutable characteristic or other characteristic not within their control:  race, gender, nationality, deeply-held conviction about the indissoluability of marriage, etc.                                     (4) the characteristic bears no relation to their ability to perform or contribute to society.

Judge T S Black_quote

Where a quasi-suspect classification is established, intermediate scrutiny applies.  Here the burden shifts to the state to prove that the law serves an “important” governmental objective that could not be met without the means chosen, and that there’s a close fit between the outcome of the law and its claimed objective.   We all know by now that unilateral divorce laws cannot stand up against that kind of scrutiny due to the range of well-documented perverse outcomes, and due to the varying ways these laws have been enacted in different states, especially in that not all states apply marital fault to child custody and property division yet still enforce no-fault grounds.

Kerrigan v Public Health Commission, CT Supreme Court, (2008), pages 5-40 of embedded link, which in turn cites several Federal cases.

  Varnum v Brian,  IA Supreme Court (2009)

 

Intermediate Scrutiny  –  standard of review that is moderately protective of the constitutional rights of Respondents where the burden of proof is also with the civil authority which must prove the law serves an “important” interest which could not be achieved in the absence of that particular law, and the law actually has a close enough fit with its objective such that it actually achieves that interest or result.    Presumably, a Respondent can bring refuting evidence around the last two points, since years of evidence have stacked up in every state that unilateral divorce works against the stated purposes in the statute, and have produced the exact opposite of the objectives espoused in the legislative history, along with disastrous unintended consequences.   For this standard of review to apply,  however, there has to be evidence that the contesting Respondent is a member of a “Suspect Class” or “Quasi-Suspect Class”.

Craig v Boren (1976)  U.S. Supreme Court

FB profile 7xtjw(SIFC commentary:  if Respondents were to be treated as a quasi-suspect class, or if any of the above levels of review were applied, it would be difficult for the civil authority to obtain a finding that unilaterally-asserted and unsubstantiated “irreconcilable differences”  grounds accusations constitutionally withstand 14th Amendment equal protection and substantive due process tests.   However, all rulings to-date on constitutional challenges to divorce laws have applied rational basis as the level of review, mostly due to insufficiently developed case law and unjust failure to recognize contesting Respondents as a “Quasi-Suspect Class” or as having protected fundamental rights, as individuals or as a class.)

 

Rational Basis –  the level of review most beneficial to the civil authority seeking to defend a law and enforce it against an injured party who brings a constitutional challenge.    To gain priority over a Respondent’s equal protection and due process rights, a civil authority must establish only that the law serves a “legitimate” purpose, and the means is reasonably / rationally connected with furthering that purpose.    The burden in this situation is on the Respondent to prove otherwise.    Unjustifiably, this has been the review standard applied at the state level to all past constitutional challenges of unilateral divorce laws,  occasionally in 2-1 split appeals panel decisions concerning the level of scrutiny that should be applied.

United States v Carolene Products Company (1938)  U.S. Supreme Ct

 

Legitimate Purpose –   There have been a bevy of recent homosexual marriage redefinition cases that struck down voter-approved constitutional amendments defining marriage by finding that such laws had no rational relationship to meeting a legitimate state interest.     Yet, according to legal scholars,  Kathleen M. Sullivan and Gerald Gunther,   under this standard of review, the “legitimate interest” does not have to be the government’s actual interest.  Rather, if the court can merely hypothesize a “legitimate” interest served by the challenged action, it will withstand the rational basis review.     These volatile extremes in potential judicial outcomes show that the concept of “legitimate purpose” appears to have degenerated from its original aim of protecting separation of powers, to an area ripe for judicial anarchy, as ideological politics increasingly infect the bench.     However,  it is clear from a preponderance of  recent rulings that state legitimate purposes still cannot deprive a class of citizens of their fundamental  rights.   In other words, state legislatures can’t override fundamental rights,  and they are not subject to the will of the majority without a compelling state interest at stake, provided the states’ high courts are doing their job without class bias .

Bostic v Schaefer, 4th U.S. Circuit (2014)                                                                   Kitchen v Herbert, 10th U.S. Circuit (2014)

 

Important Purpose –   this level of review requires that the law or policy being challenged furthers an important government interest in a way that is substantially related to that interest.    As  contrasted with “legitimate” purpose, the burden shifts to the state, and there must be shown a reasonable fit between the law and its objective.   Presumably, this still cannot deprive a politically disfavored group of their fundamental rights.      As contrasted  with  “compelling” interest,  there’s no requirement for least restrictive means.

 

Compelling Interest –   historically defined as something necessary or crucial, as opposed to something merely preferred by the prevailing state ideology.    Examples include national security, preserving the lives of multiple individuals, and not violating explicit constitutional protections.    However, the recent religious free exercise case,  Korte v Sebelius   (7th US Circuit) added a lot of flavor,  which was fortunate because the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to go there  in  the  companion  case,  Burwell v  Hobby  Lobby.      According to Korte, the 7th Circuit stated, “the compelling interest test generally requires a high degree of necessity.   The government must identify an actual problem in need of solving, and the curtailment [of the fundamental right] must be actually necessary to the solution.   In the free exercise context, only those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served can overbalance the legitimate claims to the free exercise of religion… some substantial threat to public safety, peace or order.   Finally, a law connot be regarded as protecting an interest of the highest order when it leaves appreciable damage to that supposedly vital interest.”

Brown v Entertainment Merchants Assoc.  (2011)   U.S. Supreme Ct     Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v City of Hialeah (1993)  U.S. Supreme Ct

What has unilateral divorce done to the actual instances of perjury in family court?    What have been the documented child welfare results?    What impact has unilateral divorce had on the poverty rates in single parent households?    What has it done to the demand for deviant forms of marriage requiring further redefinition?    What has it done to the actual demand for heterosexual marriage?   What has it actually done to all of those lofty elements in the preambles that incongruously “grace” most all state marriage destruction statutes (i.e. public health and morality, parental cooperation, etc.) ?    Could a more powerful case be made after 45 years of documented experience that the compelling government interest actually lies in the opposite direction of unilateral divorce,  and that stripping literally millions of citizens of their fundamental rights to carry out this failed social experiment was totally unwarranted?

 

Fundamental Rights –  Those rights enumerated in the US Constitution are recognized as “fundamental” by the US Supreme Court.    According to the Supreme Court, enumerated rights that are incorporated are so fundamental that any law restricting such a right must both serve a compelling state purpose and be narrowly-tailored to that compelling purpose.   The test usually articulated for determining fundamentality under the Due Process Clause is that the putative right must be “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” or  “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition”.

For  Respondents opposed to unprovoked government intrusion into  the sovereignty of their covenant marriage and family, including irreparable harm to subsequent generations,  several fundamental rights are ignored by state law in order to guarantee the nonconsensual availability  to the Petitioner of  “irreconcilable differences” as grounds  for unilateral marriage dissolution without economic consequence, and because of the statutory exclusion of marital  fault in  determining  child welfare and property  division, which include:

  • The fundamental rights of liberty  and freedom  of  association,  of non-offending spouses  with their  children,  as well as the right of association  with  beloved members of  the  extended marital  family, often after decades of perfectly healthy marriage.

In some cases, restraining orders are obtained against non-offending Respondents where no warranting circumstances exist,  for example.

FB profile 7xtjw(SIFC was slandered and accused in  court by opposing counsel, then excoriated by the trial judge as a “stalker” for attending a post-petition family reunion with her husband’s permission and his  accompaniment, as testified to by two other accompanying witnesses!)

 

  • The fundamental right to freedom of religious expression and conscience in opposing the divorce action, in particular, declining on biblical authority to agree that a marriage joined by God is ever “irretrievably broken” since such an assertion is contrary to His Word,  also in the right to make financial decisions in the face of a prodigal spouse’s misconduct based on a biblical model of family role accountability instead of one imposed by the courts as their case law prerequisite to preserving property rights.   Finally, religious exercise in unilateral divorce is abridged  in a Respondent parent’s right to make decisions about the direction of their children’s education and other best interests, as opposed to what the court deems so.     Expressing biblical truth from the witness stand can result in personal credibility being slandered by the judge without any substantiation ,  for example, even when massive perjury has permeated the courtroom from the Petitioners side.

Burwell v Hobby Lobby (2014)   the U.S. Supreme Court upheld religiously-motivated choices and behaviors, as well as declining to engage in certain behaviors,  as constitutionally-protected religious expression  and right of conscience under the  Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment .

 

  • The fundamental right to bring an equal and effective defense against a civil charge –  the statute of our state still pays a little bit of “lip service” to what four or five elements constitute a finding of “irreconcilable differences”.   The statute implies that both parties have an equal right to bring evidence to support or refute those elements.    SIFC’s Christian attorney made a valiant and compelling effort to do so, and at the same time appeared markedly reserved in seeking to do so.    However, the judge has the sole latitude to determine who may be allowed to do so.   Unfortunately, since allowing such evidence is deemed “prejudicial” to granting the divorce, Respondents are increasingly overruled in bringing such evidence, even denied the right to refute perjurous testimony by the Petitioner.    A unilateral divorce petition is a lawsuit guaranteed in all 50 states to remove liberty, status, privacy, property and parental rights from the Respondent, with or without just cause.    The statutory semantics of terming a civil charge as “grounds”  instead of an “allegation” to curtail the right of defense,  and denying a jury trial is unique to family court and affords Respondents fewer protections than any other type of criminal or civil defendant.

 

  •  The right to marriage (and by recent corollary, the right to remain civilly married after moving to another state) have consistently been ruled fundamental rights.    Absent proof of serious harm done by the Respondent to the Petitioner or to the marriage, state government violates this fundamental right guaranteed to non-offending Respondents  by the 14th Amendment when state courts allow Petitioners to unilaterally dissolve a marriage against the will and moral convictions of their non-offending spouse.    Inasmuch as Jesus said, “he who divorces his wife forces her to commit adultery”…and “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”,  many religious objectors who are stripped of their marital status for no cause by a court are effectively stripped of their fundamental right to remarry except to their covenant spouse.

Loving v Virginia  (1967)  U.S. Supreme  Ct

Obergefell v Kasich (2014)    US District Ct, Ohio

JudgeSutton2

Barrier v Vasterling (2014)  Jackson  County Circuit Court, MO

Judge J Dale Youngs MO Circ

 

 

  • The fundamental right to marital privacy and protection from unwarranted intrusion by government into the home –  state legislation of a generation ago impeding the distribution of contraceptives and information by parties outside the marriage was deemed an intrusion into marital privacy, yet state legislation forcing the unilateral on-demand breakup of the family for no spousal cause and with no economic consequences, beginning just 4 years later, somehow escaped the same scrutiny as reflected in this lofty and very true sentiment which was brushed aside by liberal state courts in the fostering of unilateral divorce, and apparently only got dusted off in 2003-2014 for the benefit of further redefining marriage into its current genderless form:

We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights – older than our political parties, older than our school system.   Marriage is coming together for better or worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.    It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects.”

Griswold v Connecticut  (1965)   U.S. Supreme Ct

Is it not true, that the nonconsensual / unilateral availability of “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for dissolving a civil marriage  creates a violation of the marital privacy right of the non-offending, non-consenting spouse?   Is it not true that it does so without a compelling state interest in a way that is not narrowly tailored?   After all, neither the 14th nor the 9th Amendments grant fundamental rights to marriages, they grant them to individual citizens.     Furthermore, access to unilateral divorce without mutual consent appears to undercut the fundamental right of one spouse to seek appropriate therapeutic care for the other spouse where severe emotional illness may actually be the root cause of the perceived “irreconcilable differences”.      The U.S.  7th Circuit found in Drollinger v Milligan that the right to care for family members is also a fundamental right.

 

  • The fundamental right of parental authority and determination of children’s education and welfare

Pierce v Society of Sisters  (1925)  U.S. Supreme Ct

“It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder….It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.”

Reno v Flores (1993)  U.S. Supreme Ct

“In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the “liberty” specifically protected by the Due Process Clause includes the rights….to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children.”

 

Troxel v. Granville  (2000)  U.S. Supreme Ct

[Justice Thomas, concurring opinion;]  “The opinions of the plurality, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Souter recognize such a fundamental parental right, but curiously none of them articulates the appropriate standard of review.   I would apply strict scrutiny to the infringements of fundamental rights.”

 

Stanley v Illinois  (1972)   U.S. Supreme Ct

“The private interest here, that of a man in the children he has sired and raised, undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection. It is plain that the interest of a parent in the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children “come[s] to this Court with a momentum for respect lacking when appeal is made to liberties which derive merely from shifting economic arrangements.” Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U.S. 77, 95 (1949) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).

The Court has frequently emphasized the importance of the family. The rights to conceive and to raise one’s children have been deemed “essential,” Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923), “basic civil rights of man,” Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942), and “[r]ights far more precious . . . than property rights,”

 

Drollinger v Milligan  (1977)     US 7th Circuit

The interest in the custody and care of a child by his family which has been granted paramount importance within our constitutional framework, is rooted in the right of privacy and involves the freedom to make certain kinds of important decisions involving a broad range of marital, sexual and familial relationships.”

 

 

  • The fundamental right to protection of property from government confiscation / redistribution without due compensation

W. Virginia State Board of Educ. v Barnette  (1943)  U.S. Supreme Ct

In the Supreme Court’s discussion of fundamental rights in Barnette,  they state: ” The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.   One’s right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be put to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

State divorce legislation that imposes divorce unilaterally at the request of an offending spouse, then excludes all consideration of marital fault in distributing property, violates the fundamental right to retain and defend one’s property, especially retirement assets of the non-offending spouse who is morally opposed to the divorce.    Since several states still grant unilateral divorce without finding it necessary to exclude marital fault for this purpose,  even the rational basis for doing so appears highly questionable.

Additionally, the practice creates a sharp contradiction in the law.   The 1888 Supreme Court case, Maynard v Hill was a particularly bad decision that singled out the marriage contract as beyond the protections of Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution from ex post facto state legislative acts that would impair the contract.    Then, some 80 years later, this heinous legislation took the conflicting position that marital fault should not be considered as a factor in dividing marital property because marriage was deemed to be “an economic partnership”.    Partnerships are in fact economic contracts, that are normally subject to a host of protections from financial malfeasance if the partners are not spouses that the marriage contract does not enjoy.

 

RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) –  a law sometimes passed in a state following the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision that restricted the application of the 1st Amendment Free Exercise clause on a individual’s rights if a law is one of “general application”.    Language (and effectiveness) varies by state, but generally such laws require strict scrutiny once the Respondent has shown that their free exercise of religion has been burdened by application of the law to them, and it usually provides that this constitutional protection applies to laws of general application.   There is also a Federal RFRA, but this cannot be applied to divorce cases where the state has not enacted a similar law.    Many states have only recently enacted these laws after the original dozen or so states who did so in the 1990’s.    Application of RFRA to a case provides only narrow relief that is limited to the specific individual seeking it, not any class.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC commentary:  RFRA’s  can give important relief to Respondents who are religious objectors to divorce, especially where the trial court judgment was punitive and taken in reprisal for contesting the grounds or pressing a large (albeit lawful) dissipation claim that spans several years of concealed financial abuse, perhaps in pursuit of an affair.  [Ideologically, allowing compensatory dissipation claims to be honored weakens the portion of the law that bars any consequences for marital misconduct].   It is not uncommon for some judges to make a political example of otherwise-innocent contesting Respondents through disallowance of or barring due process around dissipation claims.    In SIFC’s case this was done by requiring her to agree with the court that the marriage was “irretrievably broken”, which was against her long held biblical convictions.   

 

Animus –   State laws which have been shown to target a disfavored class and deprive them of equal protection in order to give legal preference to an opposing class have been subjected to heightened scrutiny under the 14th Amendment.   There is no question that unilateral divorce laws were enacted with the express intent of removing the protections historically afforded to defendants in divorce and downplaying both the role of willful acts against the marriage by the offending Petitioner,  and the objective interests of their minor or  emancipated children.    Today, in courtrooms across the country,  those who seek to preserve the integrity of  their families are labeled “stalkers”, “religious fundamentalists”, “mal-adjusted” and worse!    Recent legislative bills in Illinois seeking to remove even more protections from Respondents are replete with similarly-disparaging references for anyone who stands in moral opposition to unfettered sexual autonomy.    This could be unrecognized  “class legislation” similar to that repudiated by Justice Kennedy in Romer v Evans:

“A law declaring that in general it shall be more difficult for one group of citizens than for all others to seek aid from the government is itself a denial of equal protection of the laws in the most literal sense.  “The guaranty of ‘equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws.’

As stated in Bishop v Smith:  evidence of animus requires  “some structural aberration in the law 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.”

Romer v Evans  (1996)  U.S. Supreme Ct

Bishop v Smith  (2014)  U.S. 10th Circuit

 

Procedural Due Process –  constitutional principle related to the 14th Amendment that aims to protect individuals from the coercive power of government by ensuring that adjudication processes under valid laws are fair and impartial, that both parties are accorded the right to sufficient notice, an impartial arbiter,  the right to give testimony and  bring relevant evidence, enforcing equal compliance with discovery process, etc.    Family law courts frequently violate procedural due process in a contested unilateral divorce case by giving permissive treatment in many of these areas to the Petitioner while holding the Respondent to an exacting standard.

 

Substantive Due Process –  constitutional principle related to the 14th Amendment that aims to protect individuals against majoritarian policy enactments that exceed the limits of government authority by infringing on fundamental rights without a compelling state interest and narrow tailoring (close fit with state objective and least restrictive means) to achieve that interest.    Invoking substantive due process is intended to prevent singling out a disfavored group and removing their rights to life, liberty, property, marriage, marital privacy, parental authority or religious expression in order to shift the power to an opposing group or its economic beneficiaries.    In the case of unilateral divorce and family law courts, those economic beneficiaries also tend to be the very gatekeepers of justice in a severe conflict of interest!

It is vitally important to recognize that typical contested unilateral divorce proceedings will often violate both types of constitutionally-protected due process in the same case, but the tendency in the legal community is to focus on procedural due process and say the judge erred, rather than that his acts were intentional, pre-emptive or punitive.  

 

Disparate impact –   unintentional impact on a protected, disadvantaged group from enforcement of state laws.     Studies available by 2010 of the economic impact of unilateral divorce on low-income minority families, especially those headed by single mothers, caused the New York State Chapter of the National Organization for Women to actively oppose enactment of that state’s unilateral divorce laws, though broadly supported by other feminist groups in the state.   Additionally, inner city pastors are among the few clergy who will officially and publicly speak out against unilateral divorce for this same reason.     Though not a protected class, the next group to be hit by disparate impact is Respondents over age 50  in “gray divorce”, nearing retirement after 30-40 years of marriage who are suddenly stripped of that retirement when the court awards QDRO’s diverting retirement assets to the offending spouse whose financial planning was not as responsible as their own, and whose offending spouses brought the unilateral petition.   Some of these cases harbor untreated emotional illnesses which family courts will not give the responsible spouse any latitude to testify about or seek help for their beloved life partner in violation of the fundamental right recognized in previous high court cases to care for one’s family members.   In cases of severe concealed financial abuse, no-fault confiscation of retirement assets can happen even when the income of the offending Petitioner far exceeds that the of the non-offending Respondent.

SUMMARY

Despite the strong parallels between Respondents and  recent high court precedents protecting other politically-disfavored classes in marriage rights, and despite the presumptive validity of the fundamental rights of individual Respondents,  SIFC is struggling to convince her constitutional attorneys to pursue a serious and sufficiently-vigorous 14th Amendment challenge,  while there is individual relief available to her under religious freedom protections.      There could be fear that the state appeals courts will deem maintaining parity with other states’ unilateral divorce laws a important state interest, fearing that citizens may then be forced to defend actions undertaken by a malicious spouse in a more permissive state.  

There could be fear of an unknown retroactive liability impact for the state if  either nonconsensual “irreconcilable differences” as unilateral grounds for dissolution were ruled  to be  an equal protection violation, or if exclusion of marital fault in property and custody determination were ruled a substantive due process violation.    Would tens of thousands of forcibly-divorced former Respondents who contested the state-imposed unilateral dissolution of their marriages and were badly treated by the courts then be able to sue the state for restoration of property and parental rights, plus damages?

Though such an outcome would balance and restore fundamental rights that failed to be protected for “Respondents”  under Rational Basis Review a generation ago, which were wrongfully stripped away from a politically weak and disfavored class , there are some liberals and conservatives who politically would still see this outcome as “judicial activism”.   However, this is quite different from the sort of judicial activism that creates new special rights for a politically powerful and well-funded minority group.

 

In  SIFC’s estimation, two elements make unilateral divorce laws unconstitutional in all or most states:

(1)  availability of “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for dissolution of marriage  in contested cases

(2) the exclusion of marital fault as a factor in determining disputed property and child welfare matters

Standerinfamilycourt.com believes these laws give rise to the unconstitutional failure to balance between the fundamental rights of the Petitioner and the fundamental rights  of the Respondent (along with the fundamental rights of other adversely-impacted family members).    All state encroachment on the integrity and sovereignty of the family without a compelling state interest actually transfers societal control from private citizens and families to the government in an unwarranted way, even if it comes at the request of one of the spouses.     Public interest groups devoted to constitutional protections and to the defense of the traditional family should begin  taking this issue very seriously, even if belatedly and for the first time.

 

 

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

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

 

 

 

 

 

Hounding the Divorce Industry

FundRightofFatherhood

Stephen Baskerville’s Site about the Divorce Regime, Family Court Corruption and the Criminalization of Fathers and Parents.

http://www.stephenbaskerville.net/default/index.cfm/abou-stephen-baskerville/

The divorce regime is the most totalitarian institution ever to arisein the United States, Britain, and the other English-speaking democracies. Its operatives in the family courts and the social service agencies recognize no private sphere of life. “The power of family court judges is almost unlimited,” according to Judge Robert Page of the New Jersey family court. “Social workers are perceived to have nearly unlimited power,” a San Diego Grand Jury concludes. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Total immunity [enjoyed by social workers] is absolute power.”

The divorce regime is responsible for much more than “ugly divorces,” “nasty custody battles,” and other clichés. It is the most serious perpetrator of human and constitutional rights violations in the Western world today. Because it strikes the most basic institution of any civilization – the family – the divorce regime is a threat not only to social order but to civil freedom. It is also almost completely unopposed. No political party and no politicians question it. No journalists investigate it in any depth. A few attorneys have spoken out, but they are eventually suspended or disbarred. Some academics have written about it, but they soon stop. No human rights or civil liberties groups challenge it, and some positively support it. Very few “pro-family” lobbies question it. This is because the divorce regime operates through money, political power, and fear.

The divorce regime is much more serious than simply “unfairness” or “gender bias” against fathers in custody proceedings. It is the government’s machine for destroying the principal check on its power – the family – and criminalizing its main rival: fathers. The most basic human and constitutional rights are routinely violated in America’s family courts. The lives of children and parents are in serious danger once they are, as the phrase goes, taken into “custody.” Systemic conflicts-of-interest among government and private officials charged with child custody, child support, child protection, and connected matters have created a witch hunt against plainly innocent citizens.

The terror of the divorce regime is not a future possibility; it is a present reality. The following methods are currently employed by family courts and other government agents. These practices are now widespread in America:

  • mass incarcerations without trial or charge
  • forced confessions
  • children forcibly separated from parents who are under no suspicion of legal wrongdoing and parents stripped of the care, custody, and companionship of their children without explanation
  • government agents entering the homes, demanding and examining private papers and personal effects, and seizing the property of citizens who are under no suspicion of legal wrongdoing
  • official court records, including hearing tapes and transcripts, doctored and falsified with the knowledge of court officials and evidence fabricated against the innocent
  • defendants denied the constitutional right to face their accusers
  • bureaucratic police authorized to issue subpoenas and arrest warrants against parents, with no hearing and contrary to due process of law
  • special courts created specifically to process parents for political offenses
  • forced labor facilities created specifically for parents
  • children instructed to hate their parents with the backing of government officials
  • children forced by government officials to act as informers against their parents
  • children abused and killed with the backing of government officials
  • knowingly false allegations, for which no evidence is presented, accepted as fact without proof, overturning the presumption of innocence, and not punished when demonstrated to be untrue
  • parents ordered by government officials to separate from their spouses, on pain of losing their children
  • parents forced to pay the private fees of court officials they have not hired and whose services they have not sought or used, on pain of incarceration
  • parents suspected of no legal wrongdoing punitively stripped of their property and income, sometimes at gunpoint, and reduced to penury
  • government officials using the mass media to vilify private American citizens, and political leaders using their offices as platforms to verbally attack private American citizens, who have no right of reply or opportunity to defend themselves
  • parents jailed without trial reportedly beaten, in at least one case fatally, and denied medical attention while in police custody.

I have made these charges in some of the most reputable publications in the English language. They have never been refuted. Yet neither have they been corrected or even addressed by public officials, the media, or academics.

This site will tell you the truth about the divorce regime. It contains virtually all my published works – some 100 articles, several studies, and a book – on the fatherhood crisis and the corruption of the divorce industry (except book reviews and radio commentaries). For better or worse, these are the most strongly worded writings to appear on this subject in mainstream publications.

I am heavily indebted for the many letters, stories, documents, clippings, studies, citations, books, e-mail communications, and telephone calls – collected and sent to me by hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. It is not possible to name all these people, and many prefer not to be named.

Stephen Baskerville
2012

10 Lies that Keep Unconstitutional Divorce Laws Propped-Up in State Legislatures

US Const

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and counterpart clauses in each state constitution guarantee the right to the free exercise of religion for both spouses by stating that Congress / state legislatures may make no law that establishes a state religion or prohibits the free exercise thereof.  This free exercise is far more than belief, worship or expression – it is the right to act upon conviction,  make life decisions according to those convictions and do so without losing other constitutional protections,  such as the 14th Amendment which protects property from seizure without due process and guarantees equal protection under the laws. Additionally, the Federal and state versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) passed in the 1990’s require government authorities to prove a “compelling” government interest in enforcing laws against individuals claiming a religious objection, and to use the least restrictive means to enforce the law if the first burden of proof is met by that governing authority.   For example, states that create immoral incentives rewarding the unilateral dissolution of marriage by petitioners who are adulterers, homosexuals, addicts, etc., by providing that marital misconduct not be considered in dividing the marital property or in child custody decisions are probably violating RFRA, as well as the 14th Amendment

This is very important to followers of Christ who believe several things about both marriage and divorce that directly conflict with U.S. divorce laws. It is also important because followers of Christ believe they must obey God first in all things if what He commands about the order of society (“What God has joined let man not separate”) stands in conflict with civil laws.   A follower of Christ who believes it is a violation of God’s law to file a divorce petition even when they know their spouse is engaged in various acts destructive to the marriage will often be discriminated against by unilateral divorce laws because they are seen as “condoning” the behavior and not taking “prudent action” even when that action would be against their biblical conscience.   Unilateral divorce laws that do not allow marital misconduct to be considered in dividing property are certainly not a “least restrictive means” of enforcement since several U.S. states do allow the consideration of maritial misconduct for that purpose.   Under most state laws, such a position can result in serious loss of financial abuse protections that would otherwise be available to them, and result in confiscation of even their retirement benefits late in life, in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

So, does the state have any compelling government interest in enforcing unilateral divorce laws that discriminate against spouses who take biblical stands for the permenance of their marriage? Does the state have even a compelling government interest in elevating the interests of the “Petitioner” while totally subjugating the constitutional rights of the “Respondent” where religion is not involved?

Here are some arguments the state has relied upon to pass and enforce civil laws that suspend the constitutional rights of “Respondents” who have had the civil charge of “irreconcilable differences” or “irretrievable breakdown” brought against them with no effective right of defense in Family Law Court:

  1. THE LIE: “Unilateral divorce is needed to keep battered or mentally abused spouses from being trapped in a bad marriage”

THE TRUTH: Returning to the fault-based system that balances the constitutional due process owed to both spouses should not unduly burden a battered or abused spouse in obtaining a divorce for cause. However, the definition of each of the various categories of abuse needs to be specifically and objectively defined, and can no longer be vague or subjective, as was too often the case in the past. Battered and abused spouses should then have no problem bringing clear and objective evidence to prove their case, and it is unlikely this was really an issue before unilateral divorce was enacted. Even so, society is better served if the biblical prescription for this situation is promoted. The biblical prescription calls for physical separation, with ongoing marital faithfulness by the offended spouse, and holding out the possibility of reconciliation if the misconduct can be treated and resolved.

See 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.

  1. THE LIE: “The ‘majority’ of divorce cases are uncontested, so the few cases that are contested don’t matter enough to justify a change in the law”

THE TRUTH: Recent studies show that in 80% of divorces there was a spouse objecting and morally opposed – this is a clear majority of cases contested, or would be contested if finances permitted. The coerciveness of this law and the lack of financial means to contest a divorce petition, that most families face, serves to give a false picture.

 

  1. THE LIE: “ ‘No-fault’ divorce only applies to couples who mutually agree to end their marriage”

THE TRUTH: In a cunning game of “bait & switch”, this misrepresentation was advanced in the earliest states to enact the new law. Two states actually did enact laws to this effect, but in California the uncontested piece was removed from the final version, and in Texas, it was enacted but ignored by the legal community. In all states, unilateral forced divorce is imposed on contesting spouses.

  1. THE LIE: “If we go back to fault-based divorce, we would just go back to the ‘bad old days’ when two people who both wanted a divorce had to perjure themselves to make up charges against each other

THE TRUTH: This argument is so illogical that it’s amazing anyone could be gullible enough to buy it. It’s like swinging a sledgehammer to kill a gnat.   All it would have taken to deal effectively with that situation is offer a choice of UNCONTESTED-only “irreconcilable differences”, or if a spouse morally objects to divorce, continue to require proof of fault-based grounds.   At least one state did exactly that (Texas), but the entrenched interests in the legal profession did not carry it out in that fashion after it was so enacted sensibly by the legislature, so Texas ended up with unilateral divorce like all the other states eventually did.

 

  1. THE LIE: “Unilateral divorce reduces the level of acrimony and perjury in a divorce case”

THE TRUTH: If anything, a law that strips one spouse (the moral objector) of all their constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion and conscience in raising their children, protection of contract rights from impairment by ex post facto laws, their right to equal protection under the law, and the right to protection of their property (not to even mention…their children) from seizure and confiscation without due process of law cannot credibly be represented as “reducing acrimony”.   If there is any “reduction” in the level of acrimony, it’s come merely from shutting people out of court altogether due to the unconstitutionally high cost of contesting an action that’s become nearly impossible to defend against.  The fact is, if there are children involved, the acrimony is not reduced, it’s only postponed until after the divorce, when big money is perpetually spent to bring issues back to court – making divorce very lucrative for the legal profession for years after the divorce.  In contested and uncontested cases, perjury also abounds no differently than before to conceal assets, exaggerate grounds allegations, thwart financial dissipation claims, etc.

 

  1. THE LIE: “If marital misconduct is considered in any aspect of a settling a divorce case, it clogs up the court system”

THE TRUTH: Given that 80% of “respondents” are divorced against their conscience, will and choice, enforcing real consequences for the petitioner’s willful, destructive acts against the marriage in both the division of property and the determination of “best interest of the child” would probably start driving down the number of divorce petitions the same way that they skyrocketed when all the economic and parental consequences were foolishly removed by law.  What factually clogs up the court is the ease and lack of consequences for the wrongdoer in bailing out of their marriage and family responsibilities, sometimes serially.  When an adulterous spouse can no longer dissipate thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in pursuing an affair and then be awarded a chunk of the innocent spouse’s larger pension / retirement just for bringing the divorce petition, the courts would dramatically unclog.  The following states were wise enough to discern this, and have enacted divorce statutes that consider marital misconduct in dividing marital property: Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming. (Several additional states consider marital misconduct for child custody and alimony determination.)

 

  1. THE LIE: “Since unilateral divorce was enacted, the suicide rate among depressed wives has declined by 20%”

THE TRUTH: Whether or not this is objectively true, it’s also important to look at the endangerment and suicide rate in the children of the dissolved marriage. A reliable longitudinal study came out in 2012, the New Family Structures Study by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin that sheds objective light on this argument by every type of living and child rearing arrangement.  Another factor that needs to be weighed and measured is the spouse and child endangerment that occurs when the stability of marriage is traded for subsequent cohabitation with violent and abusive unmarried partners – does the allegedly-reduced suicide rate among unfettered petitioners actually offset the incidence of murder, rape and battery that is the reality for women and children, post-divorce?

 

  1. THE LIE: “Unilateral divorce laws serve society by reducing the level of immorality when unhappy spouses are freed to remarry who they wish”

THE TRUTH: Grim divorce statistics from second, third or forth marriages, far and away higher than the 1st marriage divorce rate, cast considerable doubt on this argument. People are only truly happy when they unselfishly live for the good of others. Unhappy spouses tend to be self-focused people, which only reinforces their unhappiness. People who deal with their own issues before blaming their spouse tend to stay married and don’t tend to remain unhappy. Unilateral divorce laws have clearly increased the level of immorality in our society by reducing the marriage rate, by increasing unmarried cohabitation, rebound-lesbianism and generational sin that results when children aren’t reared well.  Given the economic incentives under the unconstitutional laws, combined with the acceptance of unmarried cohabitation, unilateral divorce has often encouraged deliberate spouse-poaching, the targeted breakup of a home.  Love is a decision, but emotions come and go.  Long-married couples all know that one falls in love with their spouse in a new and different way many times over throughout the course of their marriage.

  1. THE LIE: “The potential threat of unilateral divorce has a good effect of making couples work harder to keep their marriages healthy”

THE TRUTH: Most people do not actually know that so-called “no fault” divorce is not by mutual consent, so this argument is doubtful at best.  The fastest-growing rate of divorce is among couples married 30 years or more, thanks to Viagra and emptying nests, as well as the common perception, even among allies of covenant marriage, that empty-nest marriages are more expendable than marriages with children.  In an increasingly immoral society, couples are in danger of working overtime to safeguard their marriage so that they no longer can feel relaxed and secure in it, the whole point of marriage.  To the extent this assertion is true, it is probably not attributable to fear of the law itself but to fear of the skyrocketing rate of divorce that the immorality of this law actually drives.  Repealing unilateral divorce would, over time, have a far more beneficial effect on the stability of marriages and society.

 

  1. THE LIE: “Going back to the old fault-based system will overwhelm the courts”

THE TRUTH: See #6 above. This might be true for a short time due to the current high number of cases, but it would eventually dramatically reduce the number of divorce petitions actually filed, and most likely make petitioners who would otherwise file with unclean hands more willing to try meaningful counseling, clergy, etc., because they usually cannot prove any allowable grounds. Especially true if nebulous grounds such as “mental cruelty” were objectively defined in the law by specific behaviors and had to be proven with corroboration by a licensed counselor after “x” number of sessions. “Going back to the old fault-based system” is probably an exaggeration anyway, because there are endless creative possibilities for family-friendly measures to accompany the legal change needed to restore respondent and petitioner to a level playing field of due process, including enhancements such as counseling and conflict management / communication coaching.

 

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

– by standerinfamilycourt.com