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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,081
June 30, 2021
Rebuilding Marriage in America
By Mike McManus

The U.S. divorce rate is triple that of Britain or France. After five years of marriage, 23% of Americans have divorced vs. only 8% of British or French, and 10% of Canadians.

Why? If a wife wants a divorce in England and the husband is opposed, the divorce will not be granted for five years, according to Andrew Cherlin in his book, The Marriage-Go-Round. Six years are required in France. Five or six years allows time to reconcile. In America, most states have a ZERO waiting period.

Another reason for the nation's horrific divorce rate is "No Fault Divorce." One spouse simply declares to the court, "I want a divorce," and they always get it. In the old days, one had to prove their partner was guilty of a major "fault" such as adultery or abandonment. Now the law allows no "fault" be alleged.

When he was governor of California Ronald Reagan signed the first No Fault Divorce law in 1975. Most states passed copycat laws and the number of divorces shot up to 1,036,000 from 639,000. Reagan says it was his biggest mistake in public life.

On average, each divorce involves one child. A child of divorce is three times as likely as one from an intact home to be expelled from school, become pregnant as a teenager or end up in jail by age 30.

There are two reasons to oppose No Fault Divorce:

1.Unconstitutional: Both the 5th and 14th Amendments guarantee that no person be deprived of "life, liberty or property without due process of law." In a divorce, both partners lose money. Children lose the liberty of access to both parents, and one parent's access to children is typically limited to two weekends a month. That is a loss of liberty. A divorced man will live 10 years less than a married man; a woman, four years less. Thus, in divorce all are losing life, liberty and property. Furthermore, four out of five divorces are opposed by one spouse.

2.Unjust to children: Children of divorce are three times as likely as those from intact homes to be expelled from school or to have a baby out-of-wedlock as a teenager, six times as likely to live in poverty and 3-12 times more likely to be incarcerated. Children of divorce become so vulnerable, they live five years shorter lives. When children of divorce reach adulthood, almost all cohabit and only 60% marry. They are also more likely to divorce, because they do not have a model of a successful marriage to follow.

The Coalition for Divorce Reform developed a proposal, the "Parental Divorce Reduction Act," requiring that couples considering a divorce wait at least eight months to allow for a "reconciliation and reflection period."

If the couple has children, the parents must also attend classes on the impact of divorce on kids before filing for divorce, as well as take classes to learn skills to resolve marital conflict.

Missouri was considering a reform in which the state would designate one person as the "Responsible Spouse," committed to preserving the marriage, who would get 70% of family assets. Why should a spouse who abandons a family for another person and files for divorce get 50% of family assets?

Destroying the marriage, harming spouse and children, should not be rewarded. (If there is documented evidence of physical abuse, adultery or abandonment, the person filing for divorce would be designated the "Responsible Spouse.")

Child custody would be divided in half. A four-year-old child would live seven more years with the mother, and then seven years with the father. A father's influence is most needed during the teen years, while a mother's care is best for a young child. This reform would restore justice, enabling 80% who don't want a divorce to gain child custody time and family assets. It would give the partner trying to save the marriage leverage to do so.

Sadly, 9 million couples are cohabiting. This is a large, unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children's family life. These children are markedly more likely to be physically, sexually and emotionally abused than children in both intact, married families and single parent families.

It is time to rebuild marriage in America. First, grant no divorce without a six month waiting period. Second, require parents to learn how to resolve conflict. Third, give the committed spouse 70% of family assets.

That's how to rebuild marriage in America.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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