Judge Can Take Property Without Due Process
- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On August 18, 2016
This article was first published at Cleveland.com on August 14, 2016, and in all Sun Newspapers’ print edition on August 18, 2016.
According to guest columnist Bai Macfarlane, “Ohio is not a pure no-fault divorce state. The (Ohio) legislators who enacted the option of no-fault divorce in Ohio were clear about this in their bill.”
Guest columnist Bai Macfarlane has been with the non-profit organization, Mary’s Advocates since 2004. The organization seeks to preserve marriages and works against no-fault divorce.
Ohio Domestic Relations courts have a rule that empowers judges to take the property of one party before any due process guaranteed by the Constitution. If all divorce defendants are being pre-judged as “guilty,” this should be of public interest.
If you leased a car, and the car dealer, without your consent, took the car back to the dealership and insisted that you continue to pay a portion of the lease, you would know something was wrong. Consider a different scenario, in which you borrowed a friend’s car, knowing that he might need it back at any time. One morning, you find a note from your friend saying he bicycled to your house and took back his car. You might be disappointed, but you would know that your friend did nothing wrong.
Married couples in Ohio make promises to each other that are different than those who only live together. Ohio law makes the distinction between one who separates for a just cause, and one who abandons. The law makes the distinction between one who separates under conditions that were agreeable to both parties, and one who abandons.
Ohio empowers a judge, before any divorce hearing ever takes place, to exercise discretion and issue temporary orders for a husband to pay his wife if they are separated. But when a judge orders a husband to pay support to an abandoning wife, when the husband is not guilty of extreme cruelty, gross neglect of duty, adultery, or other fault-based grounds for separation, the judge is taking his property without due process of law.
If a wife wants to renege on marital obligations, the only kind of lawful separation envisioned by the Ohio legislators was a separation acceptable to the husband. If she finds annoying the characteristics of her husband that she used to admire, but fault-based grounds for divorce do not exist, then any action for civil separation or civil divorce will have to eventually be dismissed, unless her husband agrees to a plan in which she offers to split property and children and provide support.
The legislators gave wives a right to divorce if their husbands were guilty of something grave, like extreme cruelty, adultery, or gross neglect of duty. However, the wife whose husband is doing nothing gravely wrong does not have a lawful right to divorce unless she can come up with a separation plan to which he’ll agree. A reliable husband who is simply depending on his wife to uphold the obligations she promised in marriage should not be deemed as harassing or abusing his wife who is choosing to renege on obligations promised in marriage.
If your spouse abandons you, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor and you can seek recourse via criminal action.
Ohio is not a pure no-fault divorce state. The legislators who enacted the option of no-fault divorce in Ohio were clear about this in their bill.