Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys: Our Blog

Please Follow Our Blog, LIKE US on FACEBOOK and RETWEET Our Articles!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

John and Elizabeth Edwards Legally Separate


John and Elizabeth Edwards separate after love child

BBC

US politician John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, have separated, days after he admitted fathering an illegitimate child.

Mrs. Edwards, who has inoperable cancer, had until now stood by her husband of three decades, who ran for the 2008 Democratic White House nomination.

He admitted the affair with film-maker Rielle Hunter in 2008 but had denied her child was his, until last week.

Mr. Edwards called the split with his wife "an extraordinarily sad moment".

"I love my children more than anything and still care deeply about Elizabeth," he said in a statement to the Associated Press (AP) news agency.
Mrs Edwards, 60, has not made a public comment on the separation.

Her sister, Nancy Anania, told AP: "She's doing as well as you could expect.

"I'm really proud of her that, somehow, she's got strength that you rarely see in a person."

Publisher Random House, which released Mrs Edwards's book, Resilience, last year, said in a statement she was "moving on with her life and wants to put this difficult chapter behind her".

When Mr Edwards, 56, admitted the affair with Ms Hunter in August 2008, after a press report, he said it had ended in 2006 and denied paternity.

When he finally came clean in early 2010, the Democrats' former rising star told US media he had been wrong to insist Frances Quinn Hunter, now nearly two years old, was not his daughter.

Mrs. Edwards, who has breast cancer, said then that the whole family was relieved he had owned up.

The child was born on 27 February, 2008, suggesting she was conceived in mid-2007, several months after Ms. Hunter stopped being employed by the Edwards campaign, and in the early stages of the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The story was further complicated by the fact a former aide to Mr. Edwards, Andrew Young, had himself at one time claimed paternity.

Mr. Young is due to release a tell-all book detailing Mr. Edwards's affair, called The Politician, in the next few days.

Mr. Edwards, who also ran for vice-president alongside Senator John Kerry in 2004 and once served as a senator for North Carolina, stepped out of the race for the Democratic ticket in January 2008 after failing to win a single primary.

The nomination was finally won by Barack Obama, who went on to be elected US president.

The Edwards's eldest son, Wade, was killed in a car crash at the age of 16. They have three other children.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Date of Separation and Why It Matters in California


DATE OF SEPARATION: WHY DOES IT MATTER?
So why does it matter? Short answer: California is a community property state. In California, the date of separation determines the end of the community.
The date of separation matters in division of property and in spousal support.
PROPERTY DIVISION
For example, John and Jane Smith marry 1/1/2000. They separate 12/31/2000.
Jane wins the lottery on 12/31/00. John wins the lottery on 1/1/01.
According to Family Code section 771, which states, "a) The earnings and accumulations of a spouse and the minor children living with, or in the custody of, the spouse, while living
separate and apart from the other spouse, are the separate property of the spouse. "
SO...Jane's lotto winnings are community, and John's are NOT.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT
For example, John and Jane Smith marry 1/1/00. John moves out 12/31/07, into his own apartment with his girlfriend and remained living with his girlfriend up through the date of trial.
John filed for divorce 1/1/2010.

Although John did not sleep in the family residence, he maintained continual and frequent contacts with Jane and children, including dinner every night in 2008 and 2009. John also maintained his mailing address at the family residence. John also took Jane on 2 trips in 2008. John also took Jane to social functions, friends’ homes, dinners for professional and academic groups, etc. in 2008 and 2009. John also sent Jane numerous Christmas, birthday and anniversary cards, including at least one card, in which John said he loved Jane. John and Jane continued to file joint tax returns and John paid all the household bills. John even brought his laundry home every week and Jane would wash and iron it. John and Jane did not have sex after 12/31/07. At all times during the period of physical separation prior to filing the Petition, Jane maintained she “desired” a reconciliation.
When was the date of separation?
Those are the exact facts of the case of In Re Marriage of Baragry (1977), 73 Cal.App.3d 444. The Court held that the date of separation was 1/1/10, the date of the filing of divorce.
TWO-PRONG TEST
The critical inquiry is whether the parties' conduct evidences a complete and final break in the marriage relationship.
For this, the Court uses a two-prong test to determine the date of separation: Objective and Subjective.

1. Objective Test
To answer the objective test, the court will determine when you started living apart from each other. That usually happens when one of you moves out of the family home. In today’s tough economic times, however, that is no longer an option for some, because it often is too expensive to maintain two separate residences. Even if spouses are still living in the same home, there are ways to ensure physical separation.

As California Courts put it, “Our conclusion does not necessarily rule out the possibility of some spouses living apart physically while still occupying the same dwelling. In such cases, however, the evidence would need to demonstrate unambiguous, objectively ascertainable conduct amounting to a physical separation under the same roof. (Marriage of Norviel) If this is a concern for you, you should always consult an attorney for more information.


2. Subjective Test
Physical separation is not enough to show that you separated. Some people are living separate from each other for extended periods but do not intend to end their marriage. That intent is the subjective part the court will consider. At what point did one or both of you think that the marriage was over? When did you decide that you no longer wanted to stay married? In essence, the court will look at your conduct toward each other to see when the marriage “ended.”

Please note: Marriage counseling is usually a good indicator that you are NOT intending to separate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Debenhams Creates Divorce Registry




Debenhams Creates Divorce Registry
by Annie Scott (RSS feed) Jan 19th 2010 at 9:02PM

British department store Debenhams has a new kind of registry: Divorce.

In recent years as I've shopped for bachelorette party goodies, I've noticed a swell in tacky garb brazenly boasting "Newly Divorced" and "RIP Marriage," for themed parties of a different kind. The idea that divorce is something to celebrate is a controversial one.

According to DivorceRate.org, the divorce rate in America for a first marriage is 41%. The statistics are worse for second marriages, with 60% ending in divorce, and a staggering 73% of third marriages ending as well.

It's hard to speak generally about divorce, as each one is so different, but whether it's amicable or not, it signals the end of an era. Reuters reports that Debenhams new registry is "for those wishing to help a loved one with the pain."

So. Salt and pepper shakers?

Debenhams' head of retail services Peter Moore gave this statement: "A divorce means that one partner will be leaving the marital home and therefore be left without any essentials in their new house." The recommended gift list includes items like "cookware, cutlery, crockery, glasses, bed linen, towels, small electrical goods such as toasters and microwaves as well as non-iron shirts, large plasma screen TVs and computer games," according to Reuters. The registry has yet to appear online.

[via Reuters]

Tags: Debenhams, divorce, registry

Filed under: Wealth

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti - Text "Haiti" to 90999 Now!




American Red Cross Pledges Initial $1 Million to Haiti Relief
Send a $10 Donation by Texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999

Editorial note: You can make a donation by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or click on the Donate Now button.

National Headquarters
2025 E Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
www.redcross.org
Contact: Public Affairs Desk
FOR MEDIA ONLY
media@usa.redcross.org
Phone: (202) 303-5551
.WASHINGTON, Wednesday, January 13, 2010 —

The American Red Cross is sending money, supplies and staff to Haiti to support relief efforts there after yesterday’s earthquake, which caused catastrophic damage and loss of life.

According to reports, as many as three million people may have been affected by the quake, which collapsed government buildings and caused major damage to hospitals in the area.

The Red Cross is contributing an initial $1 million from the International Response Fund to support the relief operation, and has opened its warehouse in Panama to provide tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets for approximately 5,000 families.

In addition to Red Cross staff already in Haiti, six disaster management specialists are being deployed to the disaster zone to help coordinate relief efforts. At this time, the American Red Cross is only deploying volunteers specially trained to manage international emergency operations.

There has been an outpouring of support from the public. To help, people can make an unrestricted donation to the International Response Fund at www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross, through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department. Funds will go to support American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

Debris and collapsed bridges are making access to many areas extremely difficult. Telephone service and electricity are out in many places. Haitian Red Cross staff worked throughout the night to rescue people still trapped in their homes and provide first aid. The priority remains to provide food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.

The American Red Cross already had fifteen staff in Haiti providing ongoing HIV/AIDS prevention and disaster preparedness programs. All are reported to be safe and responding to the disaster.

To date, there have been no requests for blood products from the government of Haiti. However, some patients at an affected facility in Haiti have been moved to a Guantanamo Bay hospital, and the Armed Services Blood Program has asked both the Red Cross and Florida Blood Services for support for those patients. In addition, the American Red Cross will be sending a shipment of blood products to the United Nations Mission in Haiti.

While communication with those in Haiti is still difficult, people should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 if trying to reach a U.S. citizen living or traveling in Haiti. If trying to reach a Haitian citizen, callers should continue to call or contact other family members who live nearby.

While donations are coming in for Haiti relief, the initial American Red Cross response is made possible in part by contributions from members of the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP). The following partners designate a portion of their ADGP commitment to the International Response Fund: American Express, John Deere Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Morgan Stanley and State Street Foundation.
How to Help
We are not accepting volunteers to travel to Haiti. If you would like to volunteer for the American Red Cross, please contact your local chapter.
For inquiries about relatives living and who have citizenship in Haiti, please be patient and call repeatedly until the lines clear or contact other family members who live nearby. Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster.
People trying to locate U.S. citizens living or traveling in Haiti should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747 or (202) 647-5225.


Photo: Matthew Marek, American Red Cross.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.




Related LinksPeople Who Make a Difference - Matthew Marek
Matthew Marek, who is one of the American Red Cross staff in Haiti responding to the recent earthquake, was featured in the 2007 Red Cross Annual Report. Here is that piece:Read more

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Marriage Advice: Managing Your In-Laws



Managing Your In-Laws




If you plan on sticking with your spouse, then you're also stuck with your in-laws. Here's Dr. Phil's advice for dealing with your new extended family.

1. There can be no divided loyalties. When you get married and start your own family, that's where your primary loyalty needs to be.


2. Good fences make good neighbors. Your in-laws need to be your neighbors and there need to be really good fences up. Set boundaries about when they are and are not invited into your lives.


3. You've got a finite amount of physical and emotional energy. If you're in-laws are draining you, you may need to change the boundaries. Reassure them that you are not closing them out, you are simply focusing on yourselves.


4. Once you've set boundaries, talk to your parents about them. They're not as fragile as you may think.


5. The other woman in every man's life is his mother. If your husband starts in with: "Well my mother does it this way ..." then tell him to go over and sleep with her.


6. If a wife has a problem with her mother-in-law, it's the husband who needs to step in and help fix it. Likewise, if a husband doesn't see eye-to-eye with his in-laws, his wife needs to step in. The person with the primary relationship (the son or daughter, not the in-law) needs to be the messenger.


7. Negotiate with your own partner the role that you want your in-laws to have. Don't assume you're on the same page until you talk about it.


8. Try not to criticize your spouse for his/her relationship with his/her parents. It may only lead to more clinginess or complications.


9. You need to love your parents, and have a rich and active relationship with them, but any time that you turn away from your partner to resolve a relationship issue, that's a bad thing. If you have a problem in the marriage, you need to resolve it in the marriage.


10. Keep in mind that your parents only know what you tell them. If you go to them every time you're angry and frustrated and having problems in your marriage, they hear that, but they don't hear when you make up.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Marriage: A Divorce Lawyer's Marriage


My Own Marriage
by Kelly Chang Rickert
I write about marriage and divorce. I give advice to my clients. I am a divorce lawyer. What are my thoughts on this?
First, I want to make sure that my audience knows that my blog is not the courtroom - I do not advocate or try to brainwash you. I know that my opinions have caused me to lose a slew of Facebook friends who disagree with me.
Secondly, thought I preach a good marriage, I for one know it's not easy. A good marriage (a good relationship) takes work, every single day.
Every morning, I begin my day with a daily devotion from the Bible. I have selected today's passage to share with you, my audience.


Proverbs 31: Encouragement for Today


Monday, January 04, 2010
Marriage Ups and Downs
Melanie Chitwood

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 (NAS)

Has there ever been a time when you thought that marriage is harder than you expected or more challenging than you want it to be? My marriage of 18 years to Scott has been a roller coaster of ups and downs this week, and today I'd prefer a whole lot more of the ups, or least some steadiness. We've argued about how often we're physically intimate and how often we have intimate conversations. We've argued about who works harder and who's giving more to the relationship right now. We've argued about really basic issues.

In the private place of my mind and heart I've had questions about my marriage. I've questioned how two people who are so different can be content to be married to one another. What will continue to sustain us and to create a stronger marriage through the years?

And to top it off, I think to myself, "Melanie, you write about marriage. Shouldn't you have this marriage thing figured out? What on earth am I doing writing about marriage?" Deep down inside, however, I know that's exactly why God asked me to write about marriage. I don't have all the answers, as that has been glaringly obvious this week.

But I know the One who does. I know the One who created marriage. I know the One who blesses my marriage. I know the One who holds my marriage together, as today's key verse reminds us.

This morning as I talked to God about me and Scott, I prayed, "Lord, I don't want to be at an impasse with my husband. I want us to find peaceful ground. I want us to find oneness. I want to help him, not hinder him." As I turned to God with my heart held in my hands offered up to Him, God changed me.

God answered my simple prayer in the most practical way. I prayed, "How can I please you today in my marriage?" God's answer to my heart was, Bring Scott lunch today. Make him a big, delicious, healthy salad because that's his favorite lunch.

"Really, God? Don't you think Scott and I need to talk through our issues?" And then I sensed God saying, There will be time for that, but for now, I want you to obey Me.

You see, time and again I've seen that as I let God mold my heart and as I respond in obedience, God's floodgate of love and power covers my marriage, leading us to the place He wants us to be. There will be time for more conversations between us, but for today God wants me to take one step of obedience.

Okay, God, I'm on it. I'm off to make a salad.

Dear Lord, Thank You for my marriage and thank You for my husband. Thank You for holding us together through the ups and downs of my marriage. Keep me focused on You, Lord, so I can honor You and be a blessing to my spouse. Lord, when we need to communicate, I pray we can do so honestly and peacefully. When we need to forgive, I pray we will both freely and readily forgive one another. And when we have misunderstandings, Lord, bring us quickly to a place of understanding. Where we need to extend each other grace, let us do so because You have so lavishly covered us with Your grace. As I trust You with my marriage, let my marriage bring You honor and glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

Visit Melanie’s blog for more marriage encouragement today!

Surrender your heart and your marriage to Jesus.

Application Steps:
Do one thing today to show your husband you love him. Here are some ideas:

Give him a smile and a really big kiss when he comes home at the end of the day.

Call, email, or text him to say how much you appreciate his hard work.

Tell him how much you respect what a great dad he is or you respect how he can do any kind of home repair.

Fix his favorite meal.

Don't be too tired tonight for intimacy.

Hold your tongue. Don't say those harsh words you're thinking about your husband. Instead, talk to God.

Promise not to bad-mouth your husband to your friends.

Reflections:
Consider the attitude of your heart and the actions of your hands in your marriage. Is there anything you need to confess to the Lord? Do that now. Remember that acknowledging your sin doesn't mean that you and your husband don't have issues you need to talk about and it doesn't mean that your husband doesn't have sin in his life. It means that you are seeing yourself clearly and that you are willing to do what God wants you to do. It means you're trusting your marriage to God and inviting His transforming power into your marriage.

Power Verses:
Ephesians 5:1-2, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Melanie Chitwood. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Bible and Divorce







Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matthew 19:6).



Note: This is part one of a two-part online Bible study on marriage, God and divorce. Be sure to also read Reject Unscriptural Reasons for Divorce, taken from www.dougbrittonbooks.com

Bible study on God and Divorce: Introduction

Complete commitment to your marriage provides a foundation of dependability and trust. It takes you through tough times and steers you toward godly solutions. A lack of commitment erodes your strength, determination and resourcefulness. It can lead to tragedy.

Marriage can be compared to a marathon race. If you don't commit yourself to running the distance no matter what the cost, your chances of dropping out along the way increase. But if you are determined, you will find unforeseen strength to overcome every obstacle.


Embrace God's attitude about marriage and divorce

The Bible says that when two are joined together in marriage, they are no longer two, but one (Genesis 2:23-24; Mark 10:8), and that God hates divorce. You and your spouse are "one" no matter how poorly your marriage is functioning. Divorce, in God's eyes, is not an option except in specific situations—and even then, forgiveness and rebuilding are usually best.

Study these Scriptures to see how serious the Lord is about divorce:

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel (Malachi 2:16).

What God has joined together, let man not separate ... I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:6, 9).

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery (Mark 10:11-12).

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).

My wife Skeeter and I would probably not be married today if God allowed divorce. Early in our marriage, there were times when each of us wanted out. But, after we became Christians, neither of us sought divorce because we knew it was sinful. This knowledge held us together through difficult years and pushed us to improve our marriage. Now, as we enjoy a happy marriage, we are grateful for God's commands against divorce. We needed them.



Do not rebel against God

It is hard for this online Bible study to overstate how much God hates divorce. Jesus said that to divorce for unscriptural reasons and then remarry is to commit adultery. Yet many people who profess Christianity play games with God by divorcing and then cruising along as if God did not mind. They often continue to attend church and engage in "spiritual" activities or ministries, thinking everything is fine. They look good on the outside. But read what God says about them:

You flood the Lord's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant (Malachi 2:13-14).

In other words, when you divorce for unscriptural reasons, you drive a wedge between yourself and God, for you are rebelling against him.


Realize that divorce has consequences

Unscriptural divorce always brings painful consequences. Not only do you distance yourself from God when you divorce, you also damage your spouse, wound your children, injure other family members, hurt friends, set the stage for future pain for yourself and bring shame upon the name of Christ.

When you do things God's way, things work out best. On the other hand, when you disobey God, problems eventually come. If you divorce for unscriptural reasons, the odds are high that you will regret it before you die. You are certain to regret it when you stand before God.


Never say, "Let's divorce"

Suggesting divorce without scriptural reasons opens the door to sin. When you are broke you would never say, "Let's rob a bank." Along the same lines, when you are unhappy, do not say, "Let's divorce," "I don't see why we should stay married" or "You'd be better off without me."


God and Divorce — Does God ever allow divorce?

Although the Bible stresses the importance and permanence of marriage, it permits divorce in two circumstances.

1. Divorce is allowed for sexual immorality.

Jesus said you may divorce if your spouse is sexually unfaithful. Notice, however, that he did not command you to divorce. He merely said it is permissible.

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9).

Jesus said God only allowed divorce in the Old Testament because of the hardness of our hearts (Matthew 19:8). Some people think this means Christians never should divorce since Jesus took away our hard hearts when we were born again. However, this contradicts what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9. He would not have given an exception unless he meant it.

However, it is usually better to rebuild a marriage than divorce.

There are many marriages in which the offender asked for forgiveness, the betrayed partner forgave and the two successfully rebuilt their relationship. The process was painful and involved hard work, but the results were worth the effort. God was glorified and they ended up with great marriages.



2. Divorce is allowed if an unbeliever leaves.

If you are married to an unbeliever, it is God's desire for you to stay married (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16; 1 Peter 3:1-6). However, if your unbelieving spouse leaves, you "are not bound."

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances (1 Corinthians 7:12-15).



Divorce is not permitted for "emotional desertion."

Some say the previous verses justify divorce even if their spouse does not physically leave home. They state they are free to divorce if their mate has been unpleasant, financially irresponsible, sexually unavailable, emotionally removed or physically violent. How do they come to such a conclusion? By saying that their spouse "left" or "deserted" them emotionally.

Such logic twists the clear meaning of the above passage, not to mention God's commands throughout the New Testament. Paul was writing about leaving physically. We all are married to imperfect spouses and at one time or another could justify divorce because of "emotional desertion." Let me invite you to read Part 2 of this study on God and divorce, Reject Unscriptural Reasons for Divorce.


Are there any other times God allows divorce?

The guidelines in this online Bible study on commitment, God and divorce cover the vast majority of the situations I have encountered as a marriage and family therapist. However, there are may be times when it’s hard to know what to do. For example, if your mate is jailed for physically abusing you, this could qualify as a time when divorce is permissible since your unbelieving spouse left you.

If you are unsure about your circumstances, talk with a wise pastor or counselor—someone committed to helping you discover how God’s Word applies in your situation, not someone whose basic philosophy is, "If you're unhappy, divorce."


What if you have already divorced?

If you divorced for unbiblical reasons, particularly if you were a Christian when you did so, you need to face the awfulness and seriousness of your sin. Do not pretend that divorcing your spouse was not sinful or that it somehow was okay with God. It was not.

I am extremely concerned for Christians who divorce and remarry for unscriptural reasons and are not willing to face the largeness of their sin. When we choose to sin, we harden our hearts toward God and his commandments. Then rather than genuinely confessing, we justify our actions. People say, for example, "I know it was a sin, but it was the only thing I could do." Or, "We live under grace, not law." Or, "I knew it was wrong, but Jesus told me he would forgive me if I did it."

Nonsense. It was not Jesus who told them it was okay to divorce. He commanded us not to divorce and added that if we divorce for unscriptural reasons and remarry, we commit adultery (Matthew 19:9).

The Bible uses stinging words to describe those who justify sin by saying "We live under grace." Remember Jude's words:

They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 4).

Walt said he knew the Bible condemns divorce, but planned to divorce Shelly anyway because "God is a forgiving God." Shelly protested the divorce and wrote letters pleading for another chance. His response, even as he went through the divorce proceedings, was to give her angry speeches, saying she must forgive him because she was a Christian. He divorced her, married another woman, and now attends church as if nothing happened.

Margaret told her husband Richard she intended to divorce him and then marry a man who was divorcing his wife. She said they planned to approach their church and ask forgiveness after marrying. She clearly was playing games with God and choosing to rebel against his Word. Her planned "repentance" was a sham.

I could go on and on describing people's rationalizations for divorce. For example, some say, "After I divorce and marry someone else, we will commit adultery the first time we have sex. After that it won't be adultery."

Those who justify sin will not be so nonchalant when they stand before God in judgment. He is not impressed by our excuses.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

If you divorced your spouse for unscriptural reasons and you both are Christians, you probably should pursue restoration of your marriage if neither of you has remarried. Seek counsel from a Bible-believing pastor before you make a decision.

If you were a Christian when you divorced and have married someone else, confess that you started in sin. If you truly confess, Christ will forgive you (1 John 1:9) and help you deal with the mess you created. By truly confess, I mean to (1) genuinely face the awfulness of the sin of divorcing and (2) acknowledge that if you could make the decision again you would not divorce. Anything else would be half-hearted and come short of genuine confession.

After confessing your sin, do not divorce your present spouse to remarry your previous mate. You cannot undo the effect of sin by sinning again.

There is hope in the Lord, even in this ungodly situation. When we disobey God's Word, we suffer. But when we honestly and humbly confess our sins, Christ helps us put the past behind and press on. As Paul wrote:

Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

However, do not be nonchalant about "forgetting what is behind." You have harmed others and need to do what you can to promote healing. At the least, you probably should apologize to your ex-spouse, children, close friends and church. When you offer an apology, do not make excuses. Be sure to respond with understanding, patience and love if others do not forgive you.

Let me close this section of this Bible study by offering the example of Skeeter and myself as an encouragement. We married because she became pregnant. We started our marriage in a bad way and suffered many unpleasant consequences. However, we eventually turned to God and confessed our sins. Although we had to deal with the consequences, we also experienced the grace of God and have enjoyed an ever-growing and deeply satisfying marriage. When you genuinely confess your sins, God builds mansions out of ashes.



There is hope in the Lord

Many people say divorce brings freedom. That is no more true than the serpent's promises to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5). Living according to God's Word provides true freedom—the freedom of a clean conscience, freedom from the tyranny and consequences of sin and freedom to enjoy God's love.

Even if you think you are stuck with a miserable marriage for the rest of your life, take heart. God loves you and wants the best for you. His commands are for your good. Build upon the truths in this online Bible study by going to the Word itself. As you read the Bible and grow in the Lord, you will discover principles to help you live with satisfaction and joy regardless of your situation. You will also learn many ways to transform an unsatisfying marriage into a great one.

Note: This is part two of a two-part online Bible study on marriage and divorce. Be sure to also read Commit to Your Marriage, taken from http://www.dougbrittonbooks.com/

What the Bible Says about Christians and Divorce
Although the Bible is clear about divorce, many of us—Christians and others—have been sorely tempted by thoughts of it. It's easy to understand why, since many of us go through times of intense unhappiness in our marriage. Yet God's position is unmistakable. He hates divorce.

"I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel (Malachi 2:16).

What God has joined together, let man not separate . . . I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:6, 9).

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery (Mark 10:11-12).

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).

Does God ever allow divorce? There are two possible scriptural exceptions to the Bible's commands about Christians, marriage and divorce. You can read about them in part one of this two-part online Bible study.



Common unbiblical reasons (or excuses) for divorce

The following are some common, unscriptural justifications people give for divorce. Feel free to substitute "he" or "she" where appropriate. As you read, ask yourself if you ever say or think any of these things. If you do, ask God for forgiveness and strength to stop.

"I married the wrong person."
Maybe you did marry the "wrong" person. If so, you are not alone. Many of us married someone we should not have, married under poor circumstances or married at the wrong time. But even if you sinned when you married, you cannot fix it by divorcing, for you would be sinning again.

Read the example of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). David had sexual relations with Bathsheba, arranged to have her husband killed and then married her. This was a terrible way to start a marriage and they suffered because of it.

Although David and Bathsheba's marriage started in sin, God did not tell them to divorce. In fact, read Matthew 1:6 and you will see that their son, Solomon, was one of Joseph's ancestors. (Joseph was the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.) Although we suffer terribly because of our choices (Galatians 6:7-8), God can bring unforeseen blessings out of our sins.


"I love someone else."
I remember one of the first times someone told me he was divorcing because he loved someone else. Jeremy had been active in his church for many years, but he planned to leave his wife and children because he thought he had fallen in love with a woman on the job.

He and his coworker had worked together on a project for several weeks. When it was completed, he took her to a celebration party at a friend's apartment, leaving his wife at home. They drank wine and danced. As Jeremy held her in his arms, he found himself "falling in love."

Many other married men and women have told me of falling in love with someone else, someone they thought really listened and cared. You, too, may have met someone at work, the grocery store or even church who seems more attentive and respectful than your spouse. The Bible gives clear instructions about how to deal with such situations:

First, do not think about, fantasize or plan how to sin (Romans 13:14). Remember, Jesus said that to divorce and then marry someone else is to commit adultery. Resist the temptation and concentrate your thoughts on what is right and pure (Philippians 4:8).


Second, avoid tempting situations. Jeremy should have stayed home or taken his wife to the celebration party.


Third, do not flirt, "innocently" touch others or make comments that could be interpreted as meaning you are available.


Fourth, be guided by the true love that comes from God, not the "love" that comes from your flesh. If you really love someone, you do not do anything that might cause him or her to sin. If Jeremy really loved his coworker, he would not have attended the party--for her sake as well as his own.


Fifth, when opportunities for sin present themselves, flee (Genesis 39:6-23; 2 Timothy 2:22). Cut off the relationship. Do not lay the foundation for tragedy.


Sixth, unite with (or cleave to) your spouse (Genesis 2:24) and build a good marriage.



"I don't love my mate," or, "I've fallen out of love."
The Bible tells husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and wives to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). Biblical love is seen primarily in choices, attitudes and actions, not in emotions. True love is based on our promises to God and to each other, not on how we feel at the moment.

Many marriages have been transformed when people discovered they could choose to love. Study 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, a passage that describes true love. You will see that not one verse describes love in the emotional terms you might expect.

The good news is that once you choose to practice the Bible's love principles, you also begin to experience emotional love.




"My mate doesn't love me."
It can be crushing to think you are unloved. Yet our love should not depend on being loved. Jesus said:

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44-45).

Since Jesus said to love your enemy, you can be sure he wants you to love your husband or wife, no matter what. Think about Christ's example. He loved those who rejected him.

How can you do this? Only with God's help. Sincerely ask him to help you follow the love instructions in 1 Corinthians 13 and you will see your attitude change. God will bless your obedience to his Word and, as time goes on, you will probably see your mate respond to your love.




"I'm so unhappy. This can't be what God wants."
Most people divorce because they are desperately unhappy. By disobeying God's Word and taking things into their own hands, they think they will find happiness. They pay a huge price. When they disobey God, they turn away from the source of joy--Jesus Christ.

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11).

If you think God doesn't want you to be miserable, you're right. However, he wants you to seek relief his way, not by sinning. The solution is to turn to the Lord and his Word--to learn how to experience his joy whatever your situation (Philippians 4:4; James 1:2).




"We're incompatible," or, "We have grown apart."
You may think that you and your spouse have incompatible personalities. Or you may not share similar beliefs, values or interests. Perhaps your sex life is unsatisfying. Whatever the frustration, the answer is to learn how to flourish in your situation while working to improve it, not run away.

My wife Skeeter and I have extremely different personalities, talents and interests. During more than three decades of marriage, we have had to accommodate hundreds of differences, large and small. As each of us has sought to learn from the other and to value our differences, we have both gained richer lives.




"I want to develop my ministry."
Harold longingly told me about the ministry he had with single adults before he married. He said that after marrying, he was so distracted by problems with his wife that he didn't have time for his ministry. He was sure God wanted him to divorce and move back into the ministry.

I hope you can see how foolish this argument was. Harold was telling God he planned to disobey him so he could serve him!




"We were not married in God's eyes."
Some rationalize divorce by claiming they are not really married, saying, "All we have is a piece of paper." What a creative solution! Using the same logic, I could disavow any legal contract if I later decided God had not approved of it. My word and the authority of the law would no longer have a hold on me.

This obviously is not the way God looks at things. Examine again the example of David and Bathsheba. There is no question that their marriage was not God's perfect plan, yet God did not have them divorce. Once you marry, you are married.




"He's not saved," or, "She's not a good Christian."
Even if your spouse is not a Christian--or is a lukewarm Christian--God says not to divorce. Instead, he calls on you to pray for your mate, be a great example and win him or her to Christ through your love.

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him … How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:12-13, 16).

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 3:1).




"I don't have peace."
Some justify divorce by saying, "I don't have peace and God called me to peace." They are right when they say God wants them to experience peace. But they are wrong when they think they can get it by disobeying God's commands and seeking peace in their own fashion.

Imagine a harried mother telling her child, "I don't feel peace, so I'm leaving you and getting some nicer children." Or imagine a man in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean saying, "I'm getting seasick" and jumping out of the boat. Divorcing your spouse to find peace is just as foolish--and just as serious an error in God's eyes.

Don't commit sin to find peace. Instead, seek God's peace in your circumstances. Jesus said:

In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).




"She would be happier without me."
Your mate may be unhappy, but don't use this as an excuse to divorce. You are not being noble or loving if you do. You simply are sinning. The noblest thing you can do is obey God. Stay in your marriage and work at making it the best one possible.




"We serve a forgiving God. He will forgive me."
The Bible never encourages us to sin while simultaneously claiming God's forgiveness. You can count on his forgiveness when you genuinely confess your sin, not when you harden your heart and disobey him.

God's Word is full of warnings about professing the name of the Lord while rejecting his commands. Read Malachi 2:13-14 again. God says that in spite of tears, weeping and wailing, he "no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands" because of divorce.




"We are living under grace. We serve a God of love. Don't be legalistic."
Jude forcefully refuted this when he wrote that if you "change the grace of our God into a license for immorality," you "deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord" (Jude 4). Paul also denounced this argument when he wrote:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2).

When you divorce for non-scriptural reasons, you are actively rebelling against God. Study Hosea 7:13-14, 8:2-3, 9:4 and Amos 5:21 for warnings to those who claim to seek God but choose to sin at the same time.

No one is perfect (1 John 1:8). If we could not ask God's forgiveness, we would be without hope. But don't play games with the Lord by saying you love him while at the same time disobeying him.




"Divorce is no worse than other sins."
This excuse goes right along with "We serve a forgiving God. He will forgive me." People who use this argument often have two points: (1) No sin is worse than other sins and (2) everybody sins from time to time, so what's the big deal?

If you think this way, you open the door to a world of sin, for you excuse sin so easily.

The argument that "divorce is no worse than other sins, so it's okay to divorce," is nonsense. We should look for ways to please God, not excuses to disobey him. Read God's call to holiness in Leviticus 11:44, Romans 12:1, Ephesians 5:4-5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:7. When you choose to sin, you put a distance between God and yourself. That distance grows because you have hardened your heart to his voice.

Further, in some crucial aspects, it's not true that no sin is worse than other sins. Read Malachi 2:13-16 again to see the forcefulness of God's condemnation of divorce. Also read 1 Corinthians 6:13-20 in which Paul highlighted sexual sins because "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19).




"He is physically abusive."
There are situations in which you should take action to protect yourself. Physical abuse is one of them. A man cannot begin to understand the emotional harm, not to mention the physical damage, which he inflicts when he abuses his wife. The same is equally true with a physically abusive woman.

It is often wise to separate when physical abuse occurs. The purpose of separating usually should not be to lay the foundation for a divorce, but rather to (1) prevent further violence and (2) provide adequate time for the couple to receive biblical counseling to build a solid marriage. (Are there times when divorce is permissible for physical abuse? This is discussed under "Does God ever allow divorce?" in Part 1 of this online Bible study.)

Other appropriate responses to abuse include talking to your pastor, calling the police or getting a restraining order. It is okay for a Christian to appeal to the civil authorities. Read in Acts 25:11 about the time Saul claimed his rights as a Roman citizen when he was mistreated.




"I committed a sexual sin."
From time to time, I hear someone say, "Since I had an affair, our marriage is over and I'm free to divorce." That's not what the Bible says. If you committed adultery, your spouse is free to divorce you. It doesn't work the other way around.




"He committed "mental adultery."
If your spouse longingly stares, or seems to stare, at someone else, don't say, "He looked at another woman lustfully. According to Matthew 5:27-28, he committed adultery in his heart, so I can divorce him." This would be a misuse of the Scriptures. To use the same line of reasoning, I could take someone to court as a murderer for getting angry with me (Matthew 5:22 and 1 John 3:15). These passages are written to strengthen us against lust and anger, not to justify legal actions.




There are hundreds of additional "Christian" reasons (excuses) for divorce.
The list of reasons people give for divorce is endless. For example: "He's an alcoholic." "She won't make love." "He's mean to my kids." "She smokes." "He's emotionally abusive." "She pushed me away." "I can't trust him." "God doesn't want me in an unhealthy relationship."

If you say such things, apply the same scriptural principles discussed earlier. Although you may face heartbreaking problems, they are not biblical reasons for divorce.

God loves you and will help you in your situation. Learn to "cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Trust him and follow his commands; he will help you through your hard times.



There is hope in the Lord
Many people say divorce brings freedom. That is no more true than the serpent's promises to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5). Living according to God's Word provides true freedom--the freedom of a clean conscience, freedom from the tyranny and consequences of sin and freedom to enjoy God's love.

Even if you think you are stuck with a miserable marriage for the rest of your life, take heart. God loves you and wants the best for you. His commands are for your good. As you read the Bible and grow in the Lord, you will discover principles to help you live with satisfaction and joy.

There are many things you can do to improve your marriage. This free online Bible study, Eight Keys to a Great Marriage, shows practical steps to transform your marriage. If you want to dig deeper, any of the eight books in the "Marriage by the Book" series provides extensive, easy-to-read help.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Bible and Marriage


Bible Verses About Marriage
By John Sachem





Genesis 1:26-28
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 2:18
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."

Genesis 2:21-24
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Proverbs 12:4
A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 18:22
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 31:10
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

Proverbs 31:23
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

Proverbs 31:28
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

Ecclesiastes 9:9
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

Matthew 19:4-6
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has
joined together, let man not separate."

Matthew 22:30
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Mark 10:11-12
He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

Mark 12:25
When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5
Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:8-10
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:28
But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

1 Corinthians 7:36-39
If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better. A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?


Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Colossians 3:18-19
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

1 Timothy 5:14
So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

Titus 2:3-5
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

1 Peter 2:25-3:2
For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

1 Peter 3:7
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Source: Holy Bible, New International Version