Divorce enters the political arena

No fault divorce be in danger in the United States.  According to Scott Keyes, writing in the Washington Post (April 11, 2014), some social conservative politicians are attempting to keep couples married through introducing bills to do away with or alter no fault divorce in several states across the U.S.  Organizations such as The Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage have been pushing their agenda, reports Mr. Keyes.

Why is this something that all women should be aware of and actively involve themselves in defeating?  In more then a dozen states legislation has been introduced to limit the reasons you can get divorced, lengthen the waiting period (in  some instances to as much as two years) and impose mandatory counseling before you can proceed with divorce.  Three states have already passed such laws and several others are moving to do so.

It wasn’t until 1985 that 49 states passed no fault divorce laws.  This allowed women to leave abusive spouses without having to ask the court if it was okay.  It allowed women (and men) to leave a spouse who was addicted, was not providing for their family and who were emotional unavailable or emotionally abusive.  The waiting period was set at a reasonable amount of time (In Michigan it is 6 months with children) so that the divorce could proceed without getting bogged down in months of waiting which encouraged a longer period of bickering over who gets what.  It avoided couples blaming each other in open court of acts that violated the sanctity of their marriage.

Until as recently as the 1960’s couples had to prove that one of them committed a grievous act that irreparably harmed the marriage, like adultery or  incarceration for a felony.  Physical abuse was not always a good enough reason to grant a woman a divorce.  Women do not need to regress back to the old days when it comes to their choice to divorce their spouse.

There are other reasons why the no fault divorce law is a success and should remain.  Quoting from a Stanford University study, Keyes revealed that domestic violence dropped by one third in the first 10 years of no fault.  In addition, the number of husbands who murdered their wives fell by 10 percent and suicide in women declined between 11 and 19 percent.

As women, we fought for the right to vote, the right to make medical decisions about our own bodies and the right to stay married, or not.  It is important for women to be aware of this new threat to our independence and right to make private decisions about our marriages.

Nothing herein constitutes a legal opinion.




WOTV 4 women’s legal expert Gail Saukas

For more on Gail  visit the DAWN site here

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