Divorce

I'm doing a teaching tonight on the sins against marriage. The CCC says divorce is a sin against marriage but civil divorce can be allowed in certain cases. It then give three examples:

"If civil divorce remains the only possible way of [1] ensuring certain legal rights, [2] the care of children, or [3] the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense." CCC 2383

I have examples of numbers 1 and 2 but not 3.

1 - Adultery continuing or abuse of the spouse
2 - Abuse of children, incest
3 - ???

What does it mean the protection of inheritance?

Thanks

[quote="K-McD, post:1, topic:182661"]
I'm
What does it mean the protection of inheritance?

Thanks

[/quote]

an example would be the dower rights each state grants for wives, in many states divorce laws provide for that, so a divorced spouse cannot be disinherited. another example would be the social security and pension benefits of a deceased spouse, if a formal divorce settlement is necessary to secure those rights for the innocent spouse. It depends on civil law and a lot of other factors in each state or country. Most common would be inheritance rights of the children, to protect their interests, and practically, all of this means there usually has to be a negotiated divorce settlement filed with the court to secure these rights.

inheritance of real property is usually the big issue here, or say, interest in a family business. In some other countries where membership in one's family by birth or marriage determined status, property rights even civil rights.

Actually, #1, #2 and #3 can all be for financial reasons, if the reasons are severe enough. If one spouse is habitually being gravely irresponsible with the family finances, so that the couple will not have the means for present and/or future self-care, children won't be cared for, or so that the responsible spouse will have nothing to leave to adult children, that is grounds for a legal separation of finances. The couple is still married in the eyes of the Church, but the reckless spouse is legally prevented from touching the finances held by the responsible one for the good of the family. In other words, the responsible spouse is not morally bound to remain legally married while the reckless spouse ruins the family business or causes the family home, farm or estates to be sold to pay debts.

For instance, if I were able to keep us as a couple on financially sound footing by legally separating our finances, I could get a legal divorce from my husband, if he was choosing to go through our money like water, even if we as a couple had no children to protect, if my reason was so that neither of us will be eating dog food or even living unjustly on the public dole in old age. I wouldn't have cause to do it if I just didn't like the way my spouse handled our disposable income, but if this spouse were going through all the disposable income and beyond that, then divorce for preservation of our material welfare would be a morally sound choice. We would still be married in the eyes of the Church, and neither of us would be free to remarry. (I'm assuing the financial issue did not reflect a fundamental and irreparable flaw in the husband that was present at the time of our marriage and was truly incompatible with his ability to be in a sound marriage. In that case, a decree of nullity would justly free me to attempt marriage with someone else.) Even if our marriage is valid, I have the moral right to save our finances, whether he likes it or not. After all, I promised to take him for worse, but he also promised to take me for better!

As for #3, it is just saying that preserving the financial welfare of adult children and extended family are morally sound reasons for civil divorce. This does not include preserving finances from the legitimate expenses of old age. It is not OK to falsely impoverish one spouse in order to use public programs intended only for the truly destitute so that a person with solvent finances can preserve the family fortune.

If local laws allow a legal separation to accomplish these serious objectives without civil divorce, however, then that should be used, and not civil divorce. That depends on the legal jurisdiction and the particular case....that is what "if it is the only possible way" means.

[quote="puzzleannie, post:2, topic:182661"]
an example would be the dower rights each state grants for wives, in many states divorce laws provide for that, so a divorced spouse cannot be disinherited. another example would be the social security and pension benefits of a deceased spouse, if a formal divorce settlement is necessary to secure those rights for the innocent spouse. It depends on civil law and a lot of other factors in each state or country. Most common would be inheritance rights of the children, to protect their interests, and practically, all of this means there usually has to be a negotiated divorce settlement filed with the court to secure these rights.

[/quote]

Thanks for your quick response. Your examples preclude the presence of abuse by one of the spouses. And that in order to protect the victim (other spouse and/or children) from financial ruin, a civil divorce is needed. Correct?

[quote="K-McD, post:4, topic:182661"]
Thanks for your quick response. Your examples preclude the presence of abuse by one of the spouses. And that in order to protect the victim (other spouse and/or children) from financial ruin, a civil divorce is needed. Correct?

[/quote]

There does not need to be direct physical or emotional abuse. Financial infidelity, the abuse of family finances, if grave, is reason enough. Spouses are allowed to protect their ability to obtain material basics such as food, shelter, and clothing. You don't have to wait around for your spouse's irresponsibility to make you both homeless, nor to rob you both of any hope of obtaining needed credit.

And yes, if a legal separation or other moral means would accomplish these morally sound goals, then those would be used instead of civil divorce. Civil divorce is only morally indicated as a last resort.

[quote="K-McD, post:4, topic:182661"]
Thanks for your quick response. Your examples preclude the presence of abuse by one of the spouses. And that in order to protect the victim (other spouse and/or children) from financial ruin, a civil divorce is needed. Correct?

[/quote]

you did not ask about this so I did not address it. yes canon law does provide for this and I believe the CCC mentions it to as a legitimate reason for divorce. The underlying CCC principles you cited cover it.

[quote="K-McD, post:1, topic:182661"]
................"If civil divorce remains the only possible way of [1] ensuring certain legal rights, [2] the care of children, or [3] the protection of inheritance, it can be tolerated and does not constitute a moral offense." CCC 2383

I have examples of numbers 1 and 2 but not 3.

1 - Adultery continuing or abuse of the spouse
2 - Abuse of children, incest
3 - ???

What does it mean the protection of inheritance?

Thanks

[/quote]

Imagine a dad who is drinking or gambling the families wealth (as a farm/ 401k) away, the wife can civilly divorce to lock some of the assets under her or the childrens control thus protecting the family assets which he can no longer lose as it is not all his anymore.

Thanks for your responses. I think I have a better understanding from both your responses. The abuse I was thinking of was referring to financial. As opposed to the spouses just separating so they can make more money. The 3rd example has to do with the protection of financial harm to one of the spouses or children.

Thanks

as I say a lot depends on civil law that applies in that jurisdiction, all the Church is saying this may be one example of reasons when civil divorce is allowable or even necessary, and therefore not sinfu. The sin comes in with willful divorce, with a view to ending a marriage commitment, and the sin is compounded when the reason is to enter into another sinful manner of living. The innocent party in a divorce (something civil law does not even recognize very often) does not sin. The simple fact is that in most states if your spouse decides to divorce you there is not much you can do about it the way laws are written now, and there is no way to secure your rights with regard to property, children or anything else without going through the divorce and negotiating a setlement. The citations OP gives are not an exhaustive list of why or when divorce may be permitted (not be sinful) but broad examples.

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