Is helping people divorce as a legal practicioner immoral?

Is helping people divorce as a legal practicioner immoral?

I am studying to become an Advocate in the Republic of South Africa. One of my mandatory courses is to act as a paralegal: giving legal advice to the poor. I have been assigned to the family department: guardianship, etcetera but also divorce. I had initially hoped to take police torture cases, but the university ignored my wishes on the matter, and I have to do this or I don’t graduate. I am good at divorce law, and I like that parties must be sure the marriage is over before divorce, and that children are the major focus of everything.

My rationalization is that divorce is tragic, while remarriage is the mortal sin, also that the state sinned by introducing divorce, but that does not mean that people should be denied legal services, such as to ensure that their children are cared for and that the weaker party gets maintenance and so forth. I don’t think what I am doing is immoral, and it is required for me to graduate from law.

That said, I am uneasy. I don’t mind defending a murderer, or rapist, but it makes me uneasy that divorce rips apart families. The head of the department is a Catholic who goes to church every Sunday, which is some comfort.

For me, what we do is divide estates of people already divorced in their hearts: and insure that no further evil comes of the divorce by enforcing the rights to maintenance and childcare and so on.

Any advice would be appreciated.

I will be observing this thread as one divorced. I am not Catholic - yet - but the issue applies because of the words of Jesus. At the time I believed I did the right thing and still do. But His words…
I later learned from the CCC that a civil divorce “can be tolerated and and does not constitute a moral offense.”
I am fairly convinced that I would not be here otherwise. Believe me, I wasn’t thrilled given His words, but what does a woman do when her husband is so irresponsible as to willingly put his wife’s life at risk?
I understand this is not what you are looking for as a response. I just felt compelled to put forth an ethical point of another kind.
And now I sit back.
May you get the information and responses you need.


The morality of divorce versus remarriage is often confused.

Divorce is necessary to bring about an ordered separation when marriages have irretrievably broken down. Canon Law even provides rules for mediating separation in territories that do not have civil divorce. However divorce does not make you free to remarry.

So while the reason a marriage has broken down may involve sin on behalf of one or both of the spouses, the divorce in itself is not a sin.

Here in the UK it is a policy in our tribunals to only admit cases for Annulment after a civil divorce has been completed.

Thank you Fr P.

Yes, I might have that to look forward to. Such a process…

Welcome to the board Father P. I have enjoyed reading your posts.

Thank you Father P, Cheezey, and Mary.

Every bit helps. Goodluck Cheezey with your divorce. I hope it is successful.

I am a lawyer myself and my policy, not only with regard to divorce but all issues, is I didn’t get the client into the mess, them by their own actions got into the mess so it is not my fault that they messed up. I am trying to get them out of the mess and as a good catholic I can give them some needed advice so they won’t mess up in the future.

Thank you for the help.

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