The Diocesan Spiritual Court is that part of the diocesan administration that hears cases of violations of the Church Canons, including cases of divorce.
Church Divorces are granted by the Spiritual Court based on the criteria appointed by the Zemskii Sobor (Council of the Russian Land) of 1917. These are, in short:
- Apostasy from Orthodoxy
- Adultery and Unnatural Vices
- Incapacity for Marital Cohabitation
- Affliction by Leprosy or Syphilis
- Unknown Absence
- Jail Sentence with Deprivation of Rights
- Infringement Upon the Life and Health of the Other Spouse and Children
- Incest or Prostitution of Spouse
- Entering into a New Marriage
- Serious, Incurable Mental Sickness
- Intentional Desertion
printed in "Living Orthodoxy" #121, Volume XXI #1, January-February, 2000
Responsibilities of the Various Parties in a Divorce Case
In order to expedite the process of granting a Church divorce, the Spiritual Court of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America requests that the documents below be submitted in conjunction with any request for a Church divorce. Until these documents are received, a Church divorce CANNOT be granted.
- Church documents which provide the following information:
- Was the couple married in the Orthodox Church? If so:
- By whom?
- If the couple was not married in the Orthodox Church, then a Church divorce is not necessary and need not be requested.
- Narrative account of the marital history. In this must be included an explanation of the reasons for the separation, and the reasons for which the divorce is being requested.
- Note: The priest must first collect this narrative from the plaintiff (the spouse requesting the divorce). This is considered the petition for Church divorce. The petition for divorce must then be sent to the defendant (by the plaintiff) with a letter requesting the defendant reply to the charges made by the plaintiff. Finally, the plaintiff must comment on the rebuttal of the defendant if there is a divergence or disagreement between the accounts of the plaintiff and the defendant.
- It is important that the request sent to the defendant be sent by REGISTERED MAIL, so that a record may be maintained that the defendant received the request.
- A copy of the civil divorce document. A Church divorce will not be granted before a civil divorce has been obtained.
- Addresses of both the plaintiff and the defendant. Email addresses, if available.
- Testimonies of witnesses, if needed. Testimonies are optional, and would only be helpful in some instances, depending on the grounds for which divorce is sought.
- A check, made out to the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America for $300.00. This fee should be paid by the plaintiff and is NON-REFUNDABLE
Once the Spiritual Court has received the above documents, the divorce case will be examined, and a ruling will be made as quickly as possible, but not later than 6 months from the date of the receipt of all pertinent documents.
Download a copy of the PETITION FOR DIVORCE
The above documents should be sent to the Chairman of the Spiritual Court:
Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America
P.O. Box 1367
Des Plaines, IL 60017
Spiritual Court Contact Information
The Diocesan Spiritual Court is made up of one permanent member (the Chairman of the Court), and two members with terms of two years each. The members are elected at the annual Diocesan Conference. Present members of the court are:
Archpriest George Lardas, Chair
Archpriest Daniel Marshall, Member at Large
Priest Zachary Rose, Secretary