As if there weren't enough issues to divide the country, we now have yet another topic that has people riled up. What's this issue, you ask? Well, it's divorce. More specifically, 'No-Fault Divorces'.
Recent events such as the Steven Crowder controversy have brought the topic of women's rights to the forefront once more. In this article, we are going to explore what exactly a 'no-fault divorce' is, why it is controversial, and the implications that changes in the law might have.
What Exactly is a No-Fault Divorce?
In a no-fault divorce, a married couple would not be required by law to provide a reason or justification for wanting to dissolve their marriage. Instead, divorce would be permitted to either party if their differences are irreconcilable. Essentially, neither side is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.
No-fault divorces came as a welcome change to many feminist groups who believe it to be a stepping stone toward better women's rights. First introduced in the state of California in 1969, the law was signed by Ronald Reagan, who was Governor at the time. The law was incredibly popular, and within a decade, no-fault divorces were legal in all 50 states.
This shouldn't be surprising, considering that before 1969, anyone seeking divorce would have to prove instances of adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or other forms of marital misconduct. With the new law, divorce proceedings became much more streamlined and smooth. Couples who were no longer in love did not have to remain stuck in a loveless marriage.
Why Are Some People Against No-Fault Divorces?
Over the last 50 years, certain issues have caused people to push for changes in the no-fault divorce law. Most of the pushback comes from conservative groups, but there are people on both the left and the right who have raised concerns. Let us take a look at some of the major issues that people have with no-fault divorces.
It is too easy to end a marriage: Probably the biggest complaint that people have about no-fault divorces is that they make it easy for couples to give up on each other for the simplest reasons. Couples are less likely to put effort into making a marriage work. When things go wrong, both parties know that they are free to call it quits with few penalties.
The Impact on Children: A consequence of the resulting high divorce rates is that many children end up growing up without having both parent figures in the home. There have been numerous studies that have shown us the risks that single-parent homes have on a child's development.
Supporters of no-fault divorces have to make the decision about who gets the short end of the stick. The parent who has to stay in an unhappy marriage? Or the child that will grow up with the potential side effects that occur when their parents split up.
Financial and other Consequences: Another hotly debated aspect of no-fault divorces is the fact that it often ends up with one partner that has to experience extreme financial costs. Typically this is usually the woman who might have sacrificed her career in order to be a stay-at-home mom.
If the husband decides to file for a no-fault divorce, the wife is at an extreme disadvantage due to the lack of investment she has made toward her career. However, women often have a significant advantage when it comes to their treatment in family courts.
Matters of child custody are often bitterly contested between both partners. Even with the best divorce attorney in family law, courts generally favor women over men when it comes to custody. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 18.3% of men win custody cases.
What Are the Implications of Amending or Repealing No-Fault Divorce Laws?
It would appear that a law that has been in effect for over half a century isn't likely to change all of a sudden. However, State Rep. Matt Krause from Texas has recently introduced two bills that, if passed, could have serious implications. The first bill, H.B. 93, aims to repeal the no-fault divorce in the state of Texas fully.
If, by chance, H.B. 93 doesn't pass, the second bill, H.B. 65, will extend the waiting period to 180 days. Currently, the waiting period for a no-fault divorce is 60 days. It should be noted that this bill targets couples that have a child in the family who is under the age of eighteen.
The potential implications if the no-fault divorce law gets repealed are significant enough that they should grab your attention.
If Texas manages to pass the bill, it is likely that other conservative states will attempt to pass similar bills. As a result, women will end up seeing a resurgence of the problems that existed before no-fault divorces. For instance, being forced by circumstances to stay for longer periods in an abusive relationship.
The experience of your lawyer would become important in handling a divorce amicably. According to the Family Law Firm of Leon F. Bennett, no-fault divorces are generally designed to create a more amicable divorce process.
If each divorce needs to be triggered by a provable 'fault', the spouse who can hire more experienced and expensive legal representation would often have an edge.
A rise in mental health issues such as depression and suicide attempts would also see an uptick. Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, two economists, noted that as a result of no-fault divorce laws, suicide rates had dropped by 20% over the long run.
While it is unlikely that we will see a 20% jump in suicide rates, we do need to consider what consequences a possible repeal might have on society.
The no-fault divorce has been around for close to fifty years now. During the last half-century, the law has helped millions of American women find more empowerment. The ability to end a toxic marriage without the need to prove gross marital misconduct was revolutionary.
Many believe that such a law would have a tough time being repealed. However, the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year surprised countless Americans. It will be interesting to see how the political landscape of the country might be affected by changes in popular legislation.