Parents who Lose Custody in No-Fault Divorce Routine 

by Martin Barillas Monday, October 26, 2009
For: National Desk
From: Bai McFarlane, Mary's Advocates

Contact: Bai McFarlane

Parents who Lose Custody in No-Fault Divorce Routine
Should Still be Able to Take Care of Children

October 24, 2009 - Cleveland OH

Bai Macfarlane brought to the Ohio 8th District Court of Appeals questions affecting the divorced and child support. Her husband forced the divorce upon her. He used the courts to take the children from her, though she was never found to be an unfit parent. Despite her much lower income, she was ordered to pay her husband child support.

In her oral arguments in the appellate court on Wednesday, October 21, Macfarlane argued that her child support order should be reversed (see argument). She can't afford legal counsel so she served as her own attorney.

Ray Lautenschlager, President of Parents and Children for Equality, says she is correct. He has been following the Macfarlane case for years. "Parents who lose custody are being ordered to pay to support their children twice: first in their home where when they spend time with the children, and then in the other parent's home."

Macfarlane cited case law from an appeals court in Columbus, Ohio, that found the non-custodial parent to owe no child support because all the income of the non-custodial parent was used on her own necessities and the custodial parent did not need more money.

In the Ohio Revised Code, there is a conflict of law regarding which parent should pay support, asserted Macfarlane. One part of the law says the parent who loses the children should always pay child support. However, three other sections of the law conflict, and justify support being paid to the parent who lost the children.

Mrs. Macfarlane asked the appeals court to resolve the conflict in Ohio law and follow the example set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They ruled that it is in the best interest of children for the high-income-earning custodial parent to pay child support to the low-income-earning non-custodial parent. This better provides for the children in both homes when there is a large difference between both parents' income.

Macfarlane was adamant that both parents' voluntary adherence to the Catholic Church's ecclesiastic laws is relevant to the civil court. She asked that the matter be sent to the Catholic Bishop or Tribunal because their Church laws include canon law on separation of spouses and canon law considers obligations of parents toward their children. The lower court denied Macfarlane the chance to question her husband about their shared religion. She asked the appeals court to remand the case back to the trial court so she can establish the fact that both parents are professed canon-law-following Catholics. "If both parents agree to follow their Church's canon law" said Macfarlane, "the civil court must let the Church apply its own canon law to our family."

To strengthen marriage and to eliminate forced no-fault divorce are two objectives of the non-profit organization that Macfarlane founded, Mary's Advocates. They are inviting everyone to pray for the appeals court judges, two who went to local Catholic High schools. Presiding Judge, Sean Gallagher, graduated from St. Edward High School and was named "Legal Eagle - Man of the Year" for the School in 2005. Judge Frank Celebrezze attended Holy Name High School. The third judge is James Sweeney.

The mission of Mary's Advocates is to strengthen marriage, to eliminate forced no-fault divorce, and to support those who have been unjustly abandoned by their spouse. We emphasize the constitutional rights of those who choose to enter traditional marriage, namely the right to uphold the intentions of both parties in a contract, and the right to freely practice one's religion.


0    submitted by Martin Barillas
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