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Mother of four, Marie MacFarlane, is challenging the civil divorce and custody decision made by Ohio civil courts. This precedent-setting appeal argues that her religious beliefs and free speech were used against her during divorce proceedings.
Mrs. MacFarlane, a stay-at-home mother, claims that Bud MacFarlane, Jr. abandoned her and their four children. Soon after, Mr. MacFarlane filed for a no-fault divorce. During the divorce proceedings, Mrs. MacFarlane verbally maintained her opinions about the sanctity of marriage, according to her Roman Catholic faith, which forbids divorce. The civil divorce court ruled that permanent custody be given to Mr. MacFarlane and that she discontinue home-schooling her children. Mrs. MacFarlane was granted visitation rights.
“The civil courts do not have sole authority to end her marriage or to control the upbringing of her children,” argues Stephen Safranek, the Ave Maria School of Law Professor representing Mrs. MacFarlane. Safranek is handling her divorce case through a public interest law firm, TrueMarriage, founding to challenge no-fault divorce. The civil divorce court refused to allow the ecclesiastic authority of the Roman Catholic Church to be a third party in determining separation procedures, financial settlements, and custody of the children.
Currently, Mrs. MacFarlane has taken her case before the Church Tribunals while her constitutional appeal is being launched. She has founded a website concerning information on no-fault divorce.