Aside from when the marriage is invalid, when does the church allow divorce?

How about the abused wives that would be forced to be with their abusive husbands?

The Church doesn’t disallow divorce in any circumstance. Catholics are free to seek civil divorces. They just aren’t allowed to remarry without an annullment.

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I’ll qualify this a little. Catholics should not seek a civil divorce for a tax advantage, for example. But certainly a Catholic spouse would be in the right to seek a civil divorce in physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships, among other things. A civil divorce, however, like QuertyGirl says, does not mean the spouses are free to remarry.

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On this subject, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says:

Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. (CCC 1649)

This subject is also addressed in the Code of Canon Law, Canons 1151-1155.

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The Church would have no problem with a woman seeking a civil divorce and separation from an abusive husband.

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I believe that’s what is known as being separated from ‘bed and board’ - or so I was told by a priest years ago.

They are not forced to be with an abuser. If their safety is in danger, they are free to leave or to have the abuser removed.

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Nor a man seeking safety from an abusive wife.

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