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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

True Marriage

Here's a Press Release from Professor Safranek's organization True Marriage.

-----------------------------------------------------------

CLEVELAND, Ohio. -- An Ohio mother of four has launched a constitutional
appeal against an Ohio civil divorce and custody decision, arguing her
religious beliefs and free speech were used against her in the proceedings.
Her potentially precedent-setting appeal was submitted by Ave Maria School
of Law professor Stephen Safranek Jan.19 in the Eighth District Circuit
Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County. Safranek is handling the case through
TrueMarriage, a public interest law firm he founded to challenge no-fault
divorce and to defend the institution of marriage. The law firm's web site
is www.truemarriage.net.

The case involves the marriage of Marie "Bai" MacFarlane and her husband,
Bud MacFarlane, Jr. Mr. MacFarlane abandoned his wife and their four
children in 2003 and began no-fault divorce proceedings. Mrs. MacFarlane is
a stay-at-home mother and devout Roman Catholic who homeschooled her
children until 2004. The divorce was granted against her objections, and Mr.
MacFarlane was given permanent custody of the children. The court cited
Mrs. MacFarlane's opinions about the Catholic Church's teachings on the
sanctity of marriage in its decision to grant custody to her husband, and to
forbid her to continue homeschooling the children.

"The civil courts do not have sole authority to end her marriage or to
control the upbringing of her children," said Safranek. "These religious and
moral beliefs may be considered alien or quaint in our culture. Yet, the
holding fast to such beliefs should not result in discrimination against a
mother."

Mrs. MacFarlane said, "My husband and I agreed to marry for life. Even if
disputes arose, I expected that we would resolve them as Catholics, from the
Church"s moral position."

The civil divorce court refused to allow a third party arbitrator, the
ecclesiastic authority of the Roman Catholic Church, to determine separation
procedures, financial settlements and custody of the children. This is
despite legal precedents set in cases of Jewish or Islamic marriages.
Further, the appeal argues the Guardian for the children in the case was
hostile to Mrs. MacFarlane"s religious views and did not act properly in
defending the interests of the MacFarlane children. The Guardian removed
them from their mother"s care although the court psychologist report states
the children, "do want more time with their mom" and the older boys "were
adamant supporters of homeschooling."

"The court"s ruling gave the father, who works full time, permanent custody
and their stay-at-home mom visitation time," Safranek said. "This occurred
despite the fact that the father did not have a single family member or
friend or even an employee who could testify on his abilities to serve as a
custodial parent. However, a veritable blizzard of family and friends
testified on behalf of Mrs. MacFarlane."

Mrs. MacFarlane stated: "I was forced to stop homeschooling my three older
children. My youngest child is in daycare although I am willing to stay home
and care for my children. I have no right to make any decision regarding
their upbringing. Finally, although we as a family poured our lives and
savings into a non-profit foundation, my husband runs it and I have been
ordered to get another job."

Mrs. MacFarlane has taken her case on a parallel track before the Church
Tribunals.

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