Is it immoral to assist with a divorce?


#1

In my state the law allows people to handle their own divorces. A person seeking divorce and handling it themselves downloads the paperwork on the county website, fills it out, prints it, and then takes it to the court to be filed. Once the filing is complete, the first hearing is in 3-4 months and the divorce can be granted at that time provided both parties agree on division of property. The total cost is $20 for the papers, $180 filing fees, and $16 parking fees. If the respondent needs to be served professionally, there are additional fees for that. The process is fairly easy, just a lot of standing in line to file each separate copy with the correct person before moving on to the next line. Some people find it confusing and a bit difficult, but it’s really quite straightforward.

I did my own divorce (ex and I had no property other than personal and he wasn’t fighting for the kids or even parenting time). I also assisted 2 friends with their divorces in the same way. But this was all before I was called to convert.

Now I have a dear friend who has a 19 year old daughter that married last year. Let’s call her T. T married her BF in a civil ceremony last spring just a few months after she turned 18. They are not catholic. They lived with his mother for about 6 months in another state, had some drama, and then came back to live with my friend.

A few months ago, we had some drama with T’s young husband refusing to work, doing nothing around the house even when asked to by my friend and her husband, and stealing. T got a job and was fully supporting them both. She totally lost any respect and romantic feeling she had for her new husband.

Around February, my friend started noticing some strange behavior and discovered that her daughter, T, was having an affair with a man she met at work. Once everything came out, T left home and moved in with her BF. Her husband hopped a bus back to his home state a week later.

T wishes to divorce. So does her husband. But they have limited funds and T isn’t very good at…well…a lot. She’s a bit of a derp, God love her. She wouldn’t make it through the process on her own and needs help. Since everyone knows about the divorces I assisted with in the past, T has asked me to help her.

Since they have no property, other than personal which has already been divided, and no kids, I can help her get her divorce inexpensively. The question is, should I? Is it immoral to assist with a divorce?


#2

Personally I don’t see a morality issue here for you. There is nothing sacramental in place…they are not Catholic and were married civilly - not sacramentally.

That is my view…

Peace
James


#3

Ditto :thumbsup:


#4

But the Church does recognize and respect natural marriages. I am pretty sure T was Baptized as a baby and I think her husbands mother is a religious woman, so she probably had him Baptized as a child. So, I don’t know for sure, but I have reason to believe it may actually be Sacramental.


#5

You are right in thinking that we must presume this marriage valid and that, if the participants were baptized, it would also be sacramental.

It general, I would probably not advise someone to participate or assist with a divorce unless there were a very compelling reason to. By that I mean, is the divorce necessary to help protect an innocent spouse from an abusive party or are there children that need to receive formal child support or something similar?

It sounds like this marriage is crumbling due to infidelity, financial concerns, general immaturity, and probably other reasons as well. But if we assume that the marriage is valid, permanent, and possibly sacramental, I don’t see how I could in good conscience help them obtain a civil divorce just to save them some time or money.

If it were me, I’d probably explain to said friend that since your conversion, you’ve spent some time reflecting about the nature of marriage and you don’t feel comfortable helping her daughter file the paperwork to obtain a civil divorce.


#6

Baptized non-Catholic Christians marry sacramentally when they marry civilly.

But even if it’s not a sacramental marriage, we still presume it to be valid and permanent.


#7

On the otherhand, in the US the Church usually requires a divorce before an application for anulment can be considered.

I’d have to check the exact wording in canon law, but I think the faithful have the right not just to the sacraments, but also to the juridic processes of the Church.


#8

You’re right, though as the couple is not Catholic, it seems unlikely that they plan on petitioning for an annulment. It seems more likely to me (without, of course, knowing the young people involved at all) that they will do as the majority of Americans do and simply consider their civil divorce as the end of their marriage and an indication that they are free to remarry.


#9

As someone who has helped dozens of people with their divorces (I’m a lawyer) and had to reconcile how to do that within the confines of this faith, I’ll point out to you that the Catechism recognizes that divorce may be tolerated where it is necessary to protect certainlegal rights, provide for the care and maintenance or children, or preserve an inheritance. There are few cases where parties whose marriages have broken down irreconciliably would not suffer legal ramifications, particularly in the area of inheritance, from continuing to be legally married.

I don’t consider immoral to help someone who needs help. I think charity demands that we put aside our own judgment of this person’s actions and give them the benefit of the doubt. My own guide is that unless there are compelling reasons to believe the reasons for divorce are frivolous and one-sided - one partner abandoning a marriage for selfish reasons - I won’t allow my personal feelings on divorce to stop me from helping.


#10

Why would you be asked to help instead of T’s mother or father?


#11

Yes.

Thank you. The young couple involved are in separate states now and there is no real likelihood they will even attempt to reconcile. T’s husband took the required paperwork and said he would handle filing for divorce. He hasn’t done it yet citing financial reasons. Unfortunately, T is now forced to handle legal matters due to taxes. Apparently, her husband filed single even though they were legally married. She filed married filing separately. Now the IRS has sent letters asking for clarification, etc. T’s realized that there are reasons to get the legalities settled.

Her bio father isn’t in her life as he was an abusive drug addict. Her mother is incapable of doing something like this. She’s always had her husband (whoever it was at the time) handle everything for her. T’s step-father has no experience with such matters and works insane hours, so he’d rather I guide T.


#12

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