October 5, 2010
Divorce Reform: The
Responsible Spouse/Fit Parent
By Mike McManus
George Gallup Jr.
personally told me recently, “Since the 1940’s, by a 2-1 margin, Americans
say it is too easy to get divorced. It is one of the most stable numbers in
running for Governor or State Legislatures need to consider how to reduce
divorce and rebuild marriage, God’s first institution.
law rewards the irresponsible spouse who had an affair and wants a divorce.
He/she gets 50% of family assets, the same amount as the faithful spouse.
Research indicates that two-thirds of divorces are filed by women because
they can count on getting child custody. What if a husband wants to
preserve the marriage, which is in the best interest of children?
interesting new idea is that he be considered the Responsible Spouse,
who would get at least 50% of custody and 60% of family assets. A
Responsible Spouse must not have committed a major fault such as
adultery or physical abuse, and want to preserve the marriage.
change would turn the divorce culture upside down.
women would file for divorce if their husband got at least half of parental
time with children, and 60% to 100% of marital property (with a judge
deciding the percent)? Not many.
it differently, by designating the Responsible Spouse in the law and
awarding such spouses advantages in custody and property settlement in cases
of divorce – both husbands and wives would be prompted to be more
responsible, because irresponsibility would incur economic and personal
adopted by all states, America could save 500,000 marriages. Per year!
second, related idea is the Fit Parent, who would get at least
one-third of custody time with their children, which more than doubles the
time non-custodial parents now get with their kids. Less than 5% of parents
are proven to be abusive to their children, yet can see their kids only
every other weekend. That is unfair to the kids and that parent.
Parent would be able to see his/her children five out of 14 overnights.
Responsible Spouse/Fit Parent strategy will actually promote
reconciliation and family preservation. Many more couples would work out
a 40-year case study which proves the value of slowing down the divorce
process and prompting couples to improve their marriage, rather than
states passed No Fault Divorce Laws which allow one spouse to unilaterally
divorce a mate, one refused to do so – New York. If one spouse could not
prove the other guilty of a major fault, such as adultery or physical abuse,
a divorcing couple had to agree on the divorce. Secondly, they had to live
apart one full year before the divorce became final. (Some 32 states in
America do not require couples to live apart at all.)
result was that liberal New York actually has a divorce rate that is one of
the lowest in the United States: 38.7% in 2008, with 52,300 divorces and
135,000 marriages. However, this summer the New York Legislature voted to
adopt No Fault Divorce – which allows either partner to file for divorce
without the consent of a spouse.
columns that were published by the New York Daily News and nine other
New York newspapers urging Gov. Paterson veto the bill.
New Yorkers like to swap their divorce rate for the 56% rate of its
neighbor, New Jersey, and have 75,900 divorces per year?” I asked. “Or
Connecticut’s rate of 60%, yielding 81,000 divorces in New York? Horrors!”
hesitating for a month, giving hope to such opponents as the New York
Catholic Archdiocese, the governor signed the bill, making it law. The
result is predictable. Divorces will rise in New York, probably by 50% to
the level of its neighbors.
an alternative. If states adopt a Responsible Spouse/Fit Parent
revision of the law, No Fault Divorce would not be repealed. Either spouse
could file for divorce unilaterally. But he/she would pay a price. Studies
show that in four out of five divorces, one spouse opposes the divorce. That
person would be considered the Responsible Spouse in the law, and
would be granted primary custody of children, and from 60% to 100% of the
other hand, the other parent would be considered a Fit Parent and
have at least one-third time with children.
however, that state would see a sharp drop in the divorce rate, as more
couples would work to improve the marriage rather than abandon it.
time for the law to promote marriage preservation rather than marriage