Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn

Divorce For Kids: Infectious Disease Or Single Blow

November 4, AD2016

divorce

Travelling to my second school drop-off the other day, I was listening to the Patrick Madrid Show and he was discussing the Fatima apparitions, the breakdown of marriages, and divorce’s impact on families. My daughter, 13, was sitting next to me. We were both quiet, so I inquired if she was listening, and she said, “Yes.” I paused a few seconds and said what I had a dozen or so times since her mom and I divorced several years ago, “I’m sorry.” Her response was a quick, “It’s ok.” And I responded back, “No, it’s not, but I know you and your brother will be.” We both looked at each other and shared a moment of understanding. After dropping her at school and reminding her again that I love her, I thought of a previous experience.

About a year ago I stumbled onto a friend’s lively Facebook discussion about divorce. The premise was that divorce is horrible and that there is no such thing as a good divorce. True enough, I thought then, but it is not that simple. Being my daring self, I jumped into the discussion and submitted that while divorce is indeed horrible and everything should be done to preserve a marital covenant, there are ways to make divorce less impactful on kids. You would think I had detonated a bomb, as I quickly faced many objections. Eventually, though, a few eventually sought some understanding about my point.

Divorce As A Death In The Family

Dennis Prager said a few years ago, paraphrasing, that divorce is somewhat like a death in the family. It is a single event, and a very tragic one, but how parents handle that event largely determines how children will be impacted. I found Dennis’ words to be very profound, and they have stuck with me.  Divorcing parents have a choice to make: Is their divorce going to be a single, onetime event from which the family all suffers great loss and begins to move on and heal as time passes, or is it going to be an ongoing event relived with every phone call, drop off, pick up, shared expense, holiday, vacation, and family decision?

We all know people who have divorced, and we have seen how it affects their children. Some situations are clearly better than others, but when pride, ego, and vindictiveness remain part of the equation – often many years later – we typically see such situations at their worst. I know parents who still fight all the time, years after their divorce, years after getting remarried. I know some who refuse to cooperate and be flexible even for major life events. I also know parents who still will not drop their own kids at each other’s houses, and who have to converse through mediators. Worse, I have witnessed some of their kids go through agony as a result, and end up resenting one parent or the other, or both. Too often some kids believe the problems are their fault, and seek unhealthy ways to ease their pain. Every conflict, disparaging remark, or jab at the other parent is essentially a knife in their kids’ hearts. The parents – sometimes just one or the other – refuse to get over the break-up, and ultimately punish their kids through the unceasing, spiteful behavior, again and again, day after day, for something in which their kids had no fault.

Divorce happens for a variety of reasons. Those familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding divorce certainly understand the implications from a faith perspective. It is a very tragic thing when it occurs, and it is exponentially worse when children are involved. Eight years later, I still consider my divorce my biggest life failing, and I am guessing it always will be. And it is not something I can undo at Confession. But as I did in that Facebook conversation, I still contend that if divorce has happened, there are ways to lessen the impact on one’s children. By how much, I do not think we can quantify, but it requires parents putting their kids first, and I think the kids themselves ultimately reflect those efforts.

Suggestions For Not Compounding The Pain Of Divorce 1-5

There are many things to think about after a divorce, and many emotions are experienced. Below are ten suggestions for those already divorced who are actively seeking to lessen the long-term impact on their children. I understand every situation is different, but I have found these to be helpful. The key is to make an effort. First, as Dennis Prager suggests, try to treat the divorce as one terrible, painful life event, even though there are marital and spiritual implications that last much longer for the parents. If it is recent, everyone understands your mourning, weeping, and needing time for recovery. You should take the time you need and seek help from qualified, faith-based people if necessary. Most friends, I would submit, are not qualified, and often make things much worse, albeit unintentionally. They often take sides and offer spiteful suggestions that sound appealing, but ultimately have a negative impact on kids.

Second, you need to decide who you are, and who you are going to be given this dramatic change in life; this is essential! If you were the non-initiating party, are you now a person scorned who cannot get past the rejection and who is going to see your former spouse’s destruction at all costs, children and all others be damned? Or, are you still a loving mother or father who wants what is best for your kids, and is willing to make that happen, despite the change in life and a loss of a spouse? If you were the initiating party, is this the time to set aside your faith and start dating or enjoying your new freedom by catching up for “lost years?” Or, are you a loving parent who wants to ensure your kids are cared for as best they can be given the new circumstance? Who you are is critical to who your kids will be. If you remain vindictive and spiteful, or too carefree and hedonistic, your kids will follow suit. Be aware of what you are projecting.

Third, do your best to recognize your former spouse as an equal parent, and more importantly, forgive them. Whatever your spouse did or did not do to end up in a failed marriage, they are human and a child of God, and you cannot enter Heaven unless you forgive those who have trespassed against you. As Catholics, we understand well that people are flawed and sinful. We are oriented toward sin and must fight temptations throughout our lives to be just good, let alone holy. Working on forgiveness early will save your kids much unnecessary strife, and you much heartache in the long term.

Fourth, though things are very different for you and your kids, try to keep as many things as normal for them as possible. Do not let your new single life get in the way of being there for your kids, even if they are with the other parent. And if you get a Decree of Nullity and start dating, do not let new relationships interfere with those of your kids. Your vocation is still parenting first, and it is not a part-time responsibility. Call your kids to check on them each day and tell them you love them. When sports or other events are involved, try to never miss a game, and share in the excitement of a win, or the pain of a defeat, with them, and your former spouse if present. Do not be the parent who must stand at one end of the field if your former spouse is at the other. Such public displays of separation only hurt your kids.

Fifth, try to share holidays and be flexible to your former spouse’s, and kids’ needs. Understanding the court has likely prescribed a plan, be open to being flexible for the sake of your kids and their lives. Don’t be rigid for the sake of following the “rule of law” and your own convenience. Also, be flexible with pick-ups and drop-offs when you can be. When you do these things, kids can witness their parents working together and acting like adults, which is what we strive for them to become one day.

Suggestions For Not Compounding The Pain Of Divorce 6-10

Sixth, raise your kids together, though separately. What I mean is make decisions together, as parents. There should not be one set of rules at mom’s and another at dad’s. It only confuses the kids. Parenting is a partnership, so find ways to put your kids’ best interests first, together. Do not let your kids play one parent off the other, and when your kids need to be punished, work on it together. When a parent tries to be the “cool” or the “friend” parent, it undermines the kids’ stability and relationships with both parents.

Seventh, be a better, more attentive parent than you were before, especially if you work(ed) away from the home. Though you can never fill in for the absence of the other parent, it is critical to make sure your kids know they are loved, unconditionally, at both houses, and by both parents. It is also important to underscore and recognize both extended families. Kids come from two parents, and thus they need to keep the relationships on both family sides intact and much as possible. And if you do eventually get a Decree of Nullity and remarry, do not try to replace the other parent with the new spouse. No one will ever replace their mom or dad.

Eighth, and this may be hard initially, try to treat the other parent as you would a friend. This goes beyond just forgiveness. They are your kids’ mother or father, and you did presumably love them at one point. Even if you are not sure, your kids do love them. Do not make their love seem wrong or misdirected, even if you think yours might have been. Tell your kids complementary things about their other parent when situations arise. Thank them when they do good things, or try to do good things, even when you might have done something differently. After a divorce, it is easy to nitpick and find fault, but it only makes us look petty, and affects our kids, who are God-given products of that same “flawed” parent.

Ninth, live your faith. Go to Mass and celebrate the sacraments with the kids. If your faith is not strong, seek assistance in Christ’s saving grace via a priest, deacon, or other. I found great solace there, and in Church teachings, and was eventually driven to study my faith much more deeply. As such, I am better able to pass on my faith to my kids, and help them better comprehend our family’s situation on a more spiritual level. They understand that they have two parents who made mistakes, are still nowhere near perfect, but work together to never squander an ounce of love they deserve. Also, pray for your former spouse, regularly, and of course your kids.

Last, but not at all least, remind your kids that the divorce is not their fault. And tell them again. And again when you think they might need to hear it. Make them understand that they are innocent victims of circumstance, and in no way responsible. Help them understand that they are unconditionally loved by both parents, even if one parent may do it better. And importantly, do not cast blame for a divorce on the other spouse, especially to young kids, no matter how clear cut you believe the evidence. Besides, no matter what you think at this moment, marriages usually fail for a variety of reasons – some of which do not get uncovered until after many years of reflection and introspection.

Barring special circumstances, divorce is never a good or preferable choice for Catholic parents. Yet it happens. We can chastise and judge those who have divorced, and ignore the fact that we have not walked in their shoes, but I am not sure how that helps anyone. Or we can instead try to prevent such occurrences among our friends and family in the future by mitigating the best we can the issues in our own lives, and helping counsel others both in divorce avoidance, and family healing after the fact.  As a divorced father, I choose the latter, and I am hoping to help kids not get permanently devastated as a result of a divorce.

A divorce is never easy nor non-impactful, but it can be an infectious disease that spreads throughout the family, impacting generations, or it can be a single blow from which all parties work to heal for the sake of each other, but especially shared children. The aforementioned suggestions I set forth do not represent an exhaustive list, but are all things I have done and continue to do, which have helped allow my former spouse and me to have a good relationship. I know that pain, anger, and so many other emotions are part of the crosses we carry, and that others may be in different places emotionally and spiritually. I recommend thus trying to recall what Christ did for our sins, and more importantly, why He forgives us and continues to do it regularly. If you find it hard to forgive your spouse and move past the divorce for your own sake, do it as Christ does for you, and for the unique and beautiful blessings of children He created for you during your marriage.

 

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

David is a cradle Catholic, but finally immersed himself into his faith a few decades later. He takes his vocation as a single dad seriously, despite having what he claims is a sense of humor. When he's not parenting, he is selling Arizona real estate, volunteering at various Catholic charities, studying his faith, writing, or spending time outdoors. He is currently studying at the Kino Catechetical Institute, in Phoenix. David is a member of the Order of Malta Auxiliary, and a 3rd Degree Knight of Columbus. He attends Mass almost daily and Adoration regularly.

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe below to receive a daily digest of all our essays.

Thank you for supporting us!

  • Thanks for all of your comments. While I do appreciate them, I think some of you, in your appropriate zeal to promote/save marriage – and particularly the person who contacted me and told me s/he was too busy to read the article, but that I was nonetheless wrong – missed the point of the column. It was not a column about marriage, or the Church’s correct position on it. It was simply a road map of sorts for parents already divorced and apparently beyond reconciliation to not do further damage to their kids. In many cases, yes, a marriage can be saved; that is my hope and prayer for all marriages. I would hope that goes without saying in a Catholic column in a Catholic publication. That said, we must be careful not to ignore the realities of this fallen world, and consider that some may never be saved, and thus mistakenly refuse those who find themselves in such situations mercy and compassion, and particularly their children. Respectfully, David

    • Bryan

      Thank you for your reply David. I am just hopeful that Catholics who are blessed with the ability to write about this topic – and the forum to do so – will choose to use language that holds up the indissolubility of marriage. Any faithful Catholic road map must do so. Can you see how people could read your story here and believe that civil divorce has the power to end a marriage? Or that there are somehow some marriages that even God cannot heal? Our Heavenly Spouse will always be open to reconciliation with us upon our true repentance. We are to imitate His love and mercy with our earthly spouse. Yes, this is not easy and it can be a heavy cross to carry. But picking up our cross is the only way to salvation and He will help us carry this cross if we can remain faithful. May God bless you and your family.

  • jofm1

    I think all divorced parents know what that quick “It’s ok” means. You were correct to tell her it wasn’t ok. It is quick because they are in pain, maybe afraid to be on the verge of tears talking about it even with a lump in their throats. All the reassurances of love and protection for their well-being–which is necessary–never fills the void. Ever! Nothing in the world can ever replace the security of having both parents together. It is their God-given right. God will hold any of us to severe accountability for attempting to undo what He has so loving, and permanently bound until death.

    Today, marriage has become all about that loving feeling, the happiness one feels he deserves. Yet marriage means sacrifice. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Marriages never die as long as both parties are breathing. Jesus promises grace because He knew it would not always be easy. Grace can smooth every difficulty if it is sought and accepted.

    Studies have shown that couples on the verge of divorce, but who toughed it out and worked through the difficulties, were happier five years later than they ever were and wondered how they even considered divorce. That is God’s gift of grace. He rewards the sacrifice by increasing the love between the couple.
    Divorce shortens the life span of children by 5 years on average; husbands 10 years and wives 4 years according to the study on longevity. Children of divorce suffer life-long pain and difficulty emotionally, psychologically even if they appear to be doing well. They then bring it into their own marriages. Is it any wonder why God hates divorce?

    Except in rare circumstances, which does not include adultery, divorce can be tolerated, but the bond remains. No one is ever single after divorce! No one has any right to date after divorce because divorce cannot undo what God has bound. “LET NO MAN TEAR ASSUNDER.” The Church in the US because of its liberality has unfortunately added to the problem of divorce with the hundreds of thousands of annulments granted over the last 40+ years. These are not always reliable since Rome has overturned the majority of those sent on appeal.

    Life on earth is too short. Eternal life is forever. It is much better for one to remain faithful to the bond in all circumstances. God will grant that grace and the children of the faithful parent will benefit the most. Cardinal Raymond Burke speaks much on this issue. He was the top Judge in the Church’s highest court on marriage. No one could ever possibly go wrong in living the truths of the faith. They set the example for others. St. John Paul II, in Familiaris Consortio, praises the very strong witness of one who remains faithful to the marriage bond even after being unjustly divorced. They will certainly stand before God with confidence that they lived according to His will. Faithfulness to the spouse who abandoned the marriage is what will end up converting him/her helping their salvation. This is the responsibility of married couples. If Catholics would focus more on eternal life instead of only on this short earthly life, with the very real possibility of eternal damnation, which takes just one unconfessed mortal sin, their choices would be different.

    Priests do not teach the truths of the faith like they should. This is why few even believe in hell anymore. The Blessed Mother warned at Fatima that “most souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” How many sins of the flesh are committed when a spouse begins to look for someone new?

  • Bryan

    You call divorce an “infectious disease” which is similar to our Catechism calling it a “plague.” Can you see that it can spread so much easier if Catholics give a civil divorce the power to separate what God joined? If they use language that seems to give it this power? And if instead of remaining faithful to their vows they simply approach a tribunal for what has become an automatic granting of an annulment so they can move on to the next spouse? How in the name of anything truthful will this help prevent it from spreading? David, you are a very good writer. Many good suggestions in there. I pray you and your wife choose to love one another and you write another story about that!

  • Bryan

    On number three I wonder if you could expand on what “forgiveness” looks like. Not the self-centered “forgive so YOU feel better” and “you have forgiven when YOU feel better” but Christ-like, other-centered forgiveness. If our Heavenly Spouse’s forgiveness of me is always open to reconciliation upon my true repentance how can I rationalize a forgiveness of my earthly spouse that is not open to reconciliation upon her true repentance? Are we not forgiven just as we forgive others? If I build a wall and say, “Honey, I forgive you but I can never let you around this wall and back into relationship with me,” will I not find the very same wall I built to keep her out will also prevent me from entering back into relationship with Him? Do you imagine this is why the early Saints taught it would be a sin to refuse to reconcile with a repentant spouse?

  • How is the term “ex-spouse” anything but an oxymoron?

  • Bryan

    Hello David, as a faithful Catholic who believes marriage is indissoluble I wonder if you can see how your suggestion number one can be misleading? Divorce isn’t some tornado that tears apart a home and forces a husband and wife to build two separate homes. It is a choice. You link to the Catechism. In its glossary it defines divorce as the “claim that the indissoluble bond of a valid marriage between a man and a woman is broken.” Can you see how you, David, can make that choice every day you wake up? You either claim you are not married or you recognize you are married. Our Blessed Lord taught that if we look lustfully at a woman who is not our wife we are guilty of adultery. If we hate someone so much we want them dead we are a murderer. Sin is in the heart. Claiming you are no longer married is the “grave offense” of divorce and you make that claim in your heart. It is sad that so many baptized Catholics refer to their spouses as “ex” or “former.” It conveys a message that somehow man has had the power to unjoin what God has joined. Sure, the filing of a civil divorce is a one-time thing. But I pray you can see how divorce is certainly not. Can you see how the devil would want us to believe it is simply a one-and-done, confess-and-run thing?

  • Memo to Catholic bishops USA – stop abandoning and outsourcing your marriage contracts to the wiles of the secular state, while the bond remains intact. Think abortion parallel.

  • From a Catholic perspective, divorce is not a one-time event. It is a separation of spouses who both promised to uphold obligations toward each other, their future children, and everyone else, when they married.

    The best way to help children cope with divorce is to teach them about their own dignity, because they are created in the image and likeness of God to love and be loved. Plus, children need to be taught the truth about God’s plan for marriage and family.

    Divorces occur for one of two reasons. First) one spouse chooses to renege on his or her marriage promises, or second) both spouses choose to renege on their marriage promises.

    For Catholics, divorce is a grave offense against nature and immoral and tolerable only in limited circumstances described in canon law. A party in a Catholic marriage is not supposed to file for civil divorce or civil separation without having the bishop’s permission first. The Church has competence to make a determination about a separation plan in accord with divine law. (See III Plenary Council of Baltimore Art. 126, CIC 1983 Canons 6 §1 2, 104, 1151, 1692).

    Divorce is not a one-time occurrence that happens in the past any more than a 12 year-old boy leaving his 5 year-old brother locked in a closet is a one time occurrence. The 12-year old is obligated to let the little brother out of the closet, and a spouse reneging on marriage promises is obligated to uphold them.

    For Catholics, divorce is a civil name for permanent separation of spouses. Children born to a married couple have the natural right to an intact home where Mom and Dad cooperate together. That is what Mom and Dad promised before children born in marriage are even conceived. Confession doesn’t wipe away divorce unless the person confessing has the firm resolve to stop the sin. If the sin is breaking up ones family, the penitent should stop the breakup.

    The Catechism makes the distinction between the party who was innocent and the party who destroyed the marriage. The civil court’s no-fault divorce personnel do not expect parties that destroy their marriages to continue upholding their full obligations to support the marital home, or ensure the children are not given the scandal of condoning reneging on marriage promises. Children would fare better in separations that are in accord with divine law, compared to separations arranged by the coercive tactics of high priced divorce lawyers and no-fault divorce judges.

    How many children (for example) would be happier and more stable if a wife who caused a breakup was ordered to continue to provide her share to the upkeep of the marital home and child care, and spend time with the children in ways that do not disrupt the children’s home life. With the no-fault divorce option, the spouse causing the breakup is routinely rewarded.

    Yes, we need to forgive these who renege on their marital promises. The Catholic Community could better serve children spouses causing breakups would receive the spiritual work of mercy of admonishing the sinner. Even in cases judging the validity of the marriage, the decision from the Church is supposed to instruct the parties of their moral and civil obligations toward each other and their children. If the Church were implementing natural and divine law, the obligations would be very different from the obligations forthcoming from the no-fault divorce courts.

    Bai Macfarlane
    Mary’s Advocates
    Upholding True Marriage
    Supporting those who are faithful to their marriage even after divorce

    • Abandoned husband and father

      Well stated…..as usual.

  • ” If you were the initiating party, is this the time to set aside your faith and start dating or enjoying your new freedom by catching up for “lost years?”” How about returning to your vows? Your salvation depends on it. Ask Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

  • Thanks for this article David. As a suddenly single mom of five boys, I found good, if difficult to implement, advice here. It’s mostly stuff I know but need to hear over and over again.

  • Thanks for this article David. As a suddenly single mom of five boys, I found good, if difficult to implement, advice here. It’s mostly stuff I know but need to hear over and over again.
    James, since no fault divorce, divorce has risen astronomically with approximately 80% of those divorces being low conflict divorces where someone just decides to try something else. The shock of a parent walking out when there is little warning or reason has even greater impact on all parties, especially the children. One of the most frustrating things is the repeat of saying which hode truth. I believe, “it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one” is one of them that tops the list along with, “children are reslient,” and “maintain the same standard of living.” If we are going to have an impact we must be sure Truth is spoken. “Sometimes,” is purposely misunderstood by too many. On rare occasions where there is real abuse, it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one. Parents who claim abuse should build a strong case so their children are not living part time with a broken parent. Often this requires putside help and the abused and his/her children should seek it and hold on with both hands.
    Larry, not sure who or what you mean. Unfortunately, most Catholics and mommy bloggers have been affected by divorce in some way. Their experiences help me see mistakes I’ve made and give me hope for the future.
    http://www.SingleMomSmiling.com

  • Larry Bud

    It’s a real shame that the “Catholic media personalities” and the mommy-bloggers and others who have absolutely no experience with life’s unpleasant situations like divorce and etc., are so eager to pontificate and sit in judgment like smug know-it-alls. And then to pat each other on the back in support. Instead of doing the right thing, which is to let those with the actual experience speak for themselves, and try to explain what it’s like and what it really means.

    I hope it was helpful to the author to have written this article.

    • Leila Miller

      Larry, but the children of divorce deserve a voice too, not just the parents, yes?

    • Leila, children have a natural law right to an intact home. Who has the authority to suspend their right? (the bishop).

    • Larry, I’m not sure who or what you mean. Unfortunately, most Catholics and mommy bloggers have been affected by divorce in some way. I don’t really know anyone who can say they have no experience with life’s unpleasant situatiins. Their experiences, with divorce, wonderful Marriages, and in other painful circumstances, help me see mistakes I’ve made and give me hope for the the future.
      http://SingleMomSmiling.com

    • Larry Bud

      Did you not read the article? I was agreeing with the first two paragraphs. The author is doing the best he can for his kids, but he has to defend himself at every turn from know-it-alls who look down on him.

    • We can laugh at know it alls who look down on us – but it’s hard to do that if there words contain truth..

  • james

    Yes. Sometimes, it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one.

    • Micha_Elyi

      However, we should not pretend that the 1-in-1,000 case is normal then make that outlier the basis of our country’s social policy with respect to divorce. Duh.

      P.S. “Sometimes” is not a number. It cannot form a percentage nor even a rough guess of the frequency with which anything occurs. A word such as “sometimes” risks poisoning the possibility of clear thinking and sound judgment.

    • james

      My guess is that one out of ten is normal

    • James, since no fault divorce, divorce has risen astronomically with approximately 80% of those divorces being low conflict divorces where someone just decides to try something else. The shock of a parent walking out when there is little warning or reason has even greater impact on all parties, especially the children.

      One of the most frustrating things is the repeat of saying which hode truth. I believe, “it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one” is one of them that tops the list along with, “children are reslient,” and “maintain the same standard of living.” If we are going to have an impact we must be sure Truth is spoken. “Sometimes,” is purposely misunderstood by too many. On rare occasions where there is real abuse, it is better to come from a broken home than to live in one. Parents who claim abuse should build a strong case so their children are not living part time with a broken parent. Often this requires putside help and the abused and his/her children should seek it and hold on with both hands.

    • james

      What’s no fault divorce got to do with it ? If either party wants to walk for whatever reason I can’t imagine trying to keep them there if the mind is made up. Maybe I should have said is it better to live in a home where the love of the spouses is vapid, vacant or totally absent than to continue a transparent charade. Do you think children, the ultimate empaths, can’t sense estrangement and do you want this dysfunctional aspect of love imprinted on their minds as what marriage and love is all about and to expect ? Abuse isn’t always physical, it’s psyche damage. Then we have the fear factor, kids living with an imminent separation which can go on for years, warping their sense of security. Do you think children who are 30 or 40 when the break comes get off easy as their “resilience” isn’t tested like that of a 10 year old ? That’s why I’m an advocate of having this sacrament as tested and rareas that of Holy Orders. You don’t just walk in with no experience, at any legal age, with whomever Cupid shot an arrow into and decide to put the laurel wreath on long, long before you even get out of the gate. “Sometimes” is the default program everyone has a right to implement when the mind has run out of options.

    • You asked what does no-fault have to do with it. Love is a free will choice to take willful actions that are loving. When a party refuses to love the other, and the refusal includes abandoning the marriage altogether, the party choosing to abandon, should still be help accountable to uphold the obligations promised in marriage as much as humanly possible.

      As I wrote above, “The civil court’s no-fault divorce personnel do not expect parties that destroy their marriages to continue upholding their full obligations to support the marital home, or ensure the children are not given the scandal of condoning reneging on marriage promises.”

      A woman that wants to abandon her marriage should not be rewarded half, or more of the property, and be enabled to prevent her husband from having his natural every-day interactions with his children. She should be expected to contribute her full share to the marital household (money, childcare, home maintenance) as much as humanly possible. If the reason she abandoned the marital life was because she never validly consented to marriage in the first place, (e.g. grave psychic anomaly c. 1095.2, or lying about permanence c. 1101), the man should not be financially obligated to take care of her. She should not be responsible for the moral and character formation of the children.

      No-fault divorce encourages marital abandonment and makes lawyers rich.

    • james

      Divorce IS financial suicide. Visitation rights for the non custodial parent are
      contingent on paying child support as determined by the court. No one is
      condoning divorce, the damage that may be done to intact dead marriages
      may be worse than otherwise. The courts are not in the business of trying
      to determine the emotional aspects of what caused a divorce and the equal
      settlement is to safeguard both parties and make them think of how this will
      affect them both – it is not unlike Solomon offering to cut the child in half.
      Both parents have a moral responsibility to refrain from demonizing the other –
      after all, ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ are more than cultural monikers and their war is now
      over. Perhaps the institution itself has some kind of a ‘best if used by’ time
      frame that we as a species are unaware of. God listed two major pitfalls that
      would stalk marriage (adultery and thinking of it) so with all the sordid history
      involved it seems that the warning to ‘ let the buyer beware’ is well worth the
      contemplation.

    • Hi James,

      I’m only discussing marriages for those who participated in a Catholic marriage rite. When you wrote about “dead marriage,” that sounds like secular language. A man in a coma is not dead. His wife has to endure sufferings, but the marriage is not dead. A man who abandoned a marriage does not make a dead marriage. The wife will have to endure sufferings. I’m focussing on the distinction between the separation plans forthcoming from no-fault divorce and the separation plans described in the Code of Canon Law to which parties agree to adhere who participate in a Catholic rite of marriage.

    • james

      Well, this does not follow since the damage done from the no fault
      annulment does not end “sufferings” ; and both parties do not have
      to agree to “participate”. Declaring a marriage to have never been
      born with a few kids still in the picture sounds like a secular “dead marriage” to me. You can’t have it both ways.

    • jofm1

      You seem to misunderstand. Love might “die” between spouses, yet even that can be turned around by God if the spouses so wish. Our Catholic faith teaches us that marriage is until death, but how quickly Catholics disregard that when they see the greener grass, someone new or more perfect. No, marriages can’t die while both parties are alive otherwise Jesus is a liar. But so many deal on the human level alone with not a thought to salvation, eternity, vows to God, promises on the altar, etc. Selfishness take over and it is each man (spouse) for himself. A real shame. So little consideration is given to the children born of that union. No one contemplating divorce is willing to lay down his/her life for his spouse by sacrificing through the expected hardships and difficulties, to suffer for Christ and for the good of the family. Jesus expects nothing less and even promises His constant help.

    • james

      I’m glad you live in a perfect world without personal sin. Good day.

    • jofm1

      Silly remark. I did not allude to such a thing. But because the world is far from perfect, Jesus gives us strength and grace though the sacraments.

    • If you are referring to an invalid marriage, the Code of Canon Law requires the ecclesiastic decision to instruct the parties of their moral and civil obligations toward each other and their children. These instructions do not end sufferings, but they should improve the situation for the innocent party and children, rather than making the sufferings worse.

      What do you mean by “no-fault annulment”? A decree of invalidity of marriage is only issued if a party had a defective consent for some canonical reason. In my view, defective consent is synonymous with “fault.” Cleveland’s biggest newspaper’s website published a story I wrote about parties with mental problems causing a marriage to be invalid. See here “Who Pressured Cleveland Plain Dealer to Pull Column?” http://marysadvocates.org/who-pressure-cleveland-plain-dealer-to-pull-column/

    • james

      Have a good day, Bai and stop sounding like a lawyer (scribe) because it’s a
      long stretch from where we started.

    • It appears James is saying “good day” (i.e Good Bye). I started with this, “. . . , children need to be taught the truth about God’s plan for marriage and family.” Canon law is not far from where I started. As a Catholic, one of the ways truth is taught is by implementing canon law, which sets in procedure what Jesus taught in (Mat.18:15-17) about how to handle our grievances when one sin’s against another.