Reforming divorce: Changing laws to preserve families

States consider divorce reform in attempt to preserve families


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  • Terence L. Day Pullman, WA
    July 19, 2012 3:57 p.m.

    This article was very disappointing. Certainly legal questions should be addressed; but it would be much better to focus on preventing the causes of divorce instead of making it harder to absolve a dysfunctional, emotionally damaging union.

    When the Mormon Church truly wants to do something effective in preventing divorce, it will more directly and openly address the causes. Where are the sermons on living the gospel in our homes? Where is the marriage education and the pre-marriage counseling?

    The Church places much more emphasis on forgiving miscreants (let's just call them sinners)than on confronting them with their bad behaviors. Why encourage people to remain in damaging marriages?

  • clutch VERNAL, UT
    July 18, 2012 9:48 a.m.

    Wow, talk about social engineering and reliance on government. Change hearts and minds, don't let the government get involved in matters and personal as marriage and divorce.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    July 17, 2012 5:50 p.m.

    It isn't going to matter if the divorce is no fault or not from the standpoint of whether people get one or not. Those who need grounds and remain friends will decide what hurts least. Those who don't remain friends won't care. My kids' dad and I talked it over for a long time, and then we sat down with the kids. We were grateful for no fault because of the kids. The main thing was that they knew they still had a mom and dad, just in two places. If you have kids, it isn't all about the adults, and no one here seems to think that divorcing parents think that way--together. I happen to think we aren't the only ones or in the minority. That was thirty-some years ago, and we are still friends, with other lives since then. But no animosity, and the now-grown kids could say they had two parents--always.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    July 17, 2012 5:34 p.m.

    I've been divorced, and almost have become so again...we're currently separated. In counseling, the counselor and I were discussing premarital counseling, and how it was interesting that, in the LDS Church, with the emphasis on eternal marriage, there was no discussion about counseling for couples. What it led me to think was, if a couple has done all they feel they could, and still want a divorce, fine. But when they need the financial, emotional, and even religious counseling--even if they are of the same faith, they may approach it differently--is before they say "I do", when they still tell each other things, still are starry-eyed, still feel emotional. This counseling will, maybe, take just enough shine off the romance to help them understand that this isn't a fairy tale, but real life, and maybe d-i-v-o-r-c-e will just be a country-western song.

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    July 17, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    The philosophy of no-fault divorce handicaps marriage from the beginning and promises a finality to a marriage, if it doesn't work out, that never really comes. The no-fault philosophy allows for a more casual marriage that isn't treated seriously from the outset.

    Ending a marriage should be a big deal; although, I am not convinced it should be part of a government process. "Well, what is the alternative to a government process?" Consider first self-government, then extended family and friends that could help, churches should be involved, and charities.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    July 17, 2012 1:44 p.m.

    "If the petitioner for a divorce wants out of the marriage then she/he should only receive at maximum, 2-3 years of alimony. "

    That's basically what it is in Texas unless there's a disabled child involved and our divorce rate is right in the national norm. I didn't have to pay one cent to my ex-wife, her income was about 1/6th of mine. My son lived with her a few months then decided her abandonment of certain values made it untenable to stay there. He came to live with me, she never paid support for his upkeep as dictated by laws here and we just moved on.

    The thing that will reduce divorce, is people growing up and swallowing their ego and getting rid of their own worst flaws; none of which can be legislated.

  • formetoknow PAYSON, UT
    July 17, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    I pine for the days when government overreach of all forms was discouraged and vilified. Today we champion laws that would restrict our individuality, tomorrow we cry because our individuality is restricted. This is not about marriage, divorce, morals or religious principals, this is about freedom to act in a manner that would bring about our own individual and personal happiness.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    July 17, 2012 8:27 a.m.

    If you unclude all the people that "shack up" and then separate the failure rate per capita would probably be 300%

  • Ranch Here, UT
    July 16, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    If one partner in a marriage cheats on his/her spouse, there is a high degree of certainty that the cheating would continue if the cheating spouse were forced to stay in the marriage.

    Who would want to continue to live with that person, knowing that they were cheating?

    Marriage should be harder to come by, then people might appreciate it; there are those of us who are not permitted to marry and are seeking to do so, it seems to me that we might value marriage more than those of you who can marry at the drop of a pin.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    July 16, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    Governments don't preserve marriage - people do. By the time people are getting a divorce, the damage is done. If you look at the bickering that politicians do on a daily basis, its hard to see them as experts in conflict resolution.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    July 16, 2012 10:30 a.m.

    "We need LESS government*"

    *with the exception of the following: marriage, divorce, abortion, drinking, smoking, drugs, and any other moral crusade.

    July 16, 2012 10:02 a.m.

    Why would anyone want to stay in a marriage where you are not wanted! What we really need is the government to tell us who stays, who goes and when? Not a chance! We already have as good a system as we're gonna get with no-fault divorce. So after we have to get counseling to get married then the next step after marriage is to get more counseling to have a baby, then more counseling on how to be a parent and on and on. The more interference we get the worse its going to be and somebody always suffers. No law is going to change that. Divorce is a terrible way to go but we have to live with the decisions we make, even the wrong ones.

  • sweetflowers West Jordan, UT
    July 15, 2012 11:48 p.m.

    One thing I have learned is if someone doesn't want you, no divorce laws are going to change that. I couldn't think of anything worse than someone resenting the fact they couldn't get a divorce and were being forced to stay with me. I personally would feel humiliated.

    I think that young people should be taught that Marriage like anything else that is valuable, should be handled with care, and treasured, and that like all contracts,
    it is to be honored. I think a lot of marriages can be saved, because the people
    involved are normal people that can be worked with, but there are situations where
    it's really sick, and divorce is appropriate in those circumstances. With half of
    our marriages ending in divorce, you have a lot of childishness and selfishness going on, and people splitting the sheets for no good reason, and the Children pay for it.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    July 15, 2012 10:34 p.m.


    I have thought about it and am living this very scenario you list.

    Money is a HUGE motivating factor to get out of a marriage if you are selfish and disrupt and destroy a marriage because it was too easy to get out when the going got too tough.

    Easy, no-fault or irreconcilable differences divorces are what is destroying the family unit more than any other threat on the family. Selfishness causes those to seek an easy way out and unlimited alimony or even alimony that has to be paid for a decade or more causes many women (and some men) to take what they think is the easy street of having their ex take care of them financially.

  • JuliannaG FPO, AP
    July 15, 2012 8:58 p.m.

    You can't just make laws about marriage and divorce. Too many people are getting around it by never marrying at all, and that's just as damaging to the children as divorce, if not more, because there is no permanent family unit. Everything is transitory. The only true solutions would require people growing some morals and taking their ability to procreate seriously. Unfortunately too many people consider it their "right" to live whatever kind of life they want, even if in the long run it's damaging to their offspring and costs everyone else more money. You can't compel people to to the right thing, no matter how much you wish you could. You could impose stiff penalties for things like abuse or adultery or divorce, or even for extramarital sex, but people would scream that their rights are being violated. They don't care that in doing these things they're already violating someone else's rights. The only solution requires education, and people are too PC these days to be willing to make a stand for what is right.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    July 15, 2012 8:51 p.m.

    I have been married twice. I will never recover financially due to a an unethical attorney taking advantage of me. I have had three attorneys tell me the divorce decree was most likely illegal and the judge should never had signed it. Instead of owning my home free and clear I am now buried in debt and facing a mortgage payment in my retirement. Divorce is a terrible ordeal. Many describe it as worse than loosing a spouse. It was Ronald Reagan who signed CA's no fault law. He has openly admitted it was a mistake. Reagan did it because his ex charged him with emotional cruelty, wich he adamantly denied. The problem was you had to have grounds and emotional cruelty became a catchall. I agree divorce is to easy. In some cases necessary and unavoidable. still I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Usually one partner comes out the winner, custody etc while the other one is left devastated. Something to think about.

    July 15, 2012 7:18 p.m.

    An UGLY marriage situation is more harmful to the children than an amicable divorce but a bitter, ugly divorce is most damaging to the innocent children.

    Most divorces are caused by selfishness of one or both spouses who care less about the welfare of their children than their own selfish desires.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 15, 2012 6:55 p.m.

    My parents separated for the first time before I was ten. Over a period of 8 years they separated 4 times before finally getting divorced. They went to marriage counseling - both religious and non-religious - and tried many different things to make the marriage work. They did all this for the sake of the children.

    There was one main problem that no amount of therapy or desire to stay together for the children could change:

    they were not interested in being married to each other.

    Wanting to provide a stable home for the children was not enough to overcome their disinterest in each other. And my siblings and I knew they did not love each other and did not want to be married and that affected all us in very negative - although different - ways. Our lives vastly improved when our parents finally divorced and they were able to actually focus on a relationship with us kids and caring for us instead of spending all their time worrying about what we would think of their behavior and if we knew they were unhappy.

    Forcing people who do not want to be married to stay married is not the solution.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 15, 2012 6:00 p.m.

    There should be strict laws that are stringently enforced pertaining to the financial and physical welfare of minor children in a divorce situation. Other than that only the parties know whether divorce is right. All the studies in the world can't evaluate the emotional and social needs of a specific person, couple, or family, including the children..so butt out with all your dime philosophies and advice. Give families the resources necessary to evaluate their own situation properly..but stay out of it with your "I know what is best for families".

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    July 15, 2012 2:42 p.m.

    I have read several very interesting proposals here. What it comes down to is this - we are dealing with people. In fact, it is always to deal with one person that two or more people; another reason for divorce - people not wanting to deal with another person.

    Society has gone to great lengths to remove the burden of responsibility from our lives and no amount of legislation will solve that. If two people who once committed to marriage 'til death do us part' and decide later they would rather die that stay married - no amount of legislation will fix the problem and will probably only make it worse. People; especially parents, have got to understand that more than their own life hangs in the balance. Some research actually suggests that children do better emotionally losing a parent to death than to divorce.

    I suspect there is no one single cure for the ills of society. Until we reach a point where people consistently spend more time considering the needs and well being of someone other than themselves, there will always be wars, always be poverty and will always be divorce.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    July 15, 2012 2:28 p.m.

    The problem is marriage, not divorce. Marriage reform is what the states should be looking at. Make getting married as difficult and finiacially punitive as divorce currently is and I gurantee the divorce rate in this country drops tremendously.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    July 15, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    No-fault divorce has done more damage to the family than any other non-traditional family initiative.

  • nothegame Saratoga Springs, UT
    July 15, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    I have been through all of this. It was worse than a death in the family. Go to divorce class and 30 days later your divorced. How about a class before marriage and a signed contract between the couples. If you have kids and there is no abuse 1 year before u can be divorced. See what happens is a woman with a couple of kids get scared that they can't make it and get remarried to someone else to quick. Not good for her or the kids.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    July 15, 2012 10:38 a.m.

    "If the petitioner for a divorce wants out of the marriage then she/he should only receive at maximum, 2-3 years of alimony. "

    OK Thinkman. Think about it.

    2 peeps get married. Wife forgoes career and starts having kids. Dad gets masters degree and good job with great advancements. Family has 4 kids and mom is too busy to further her education or get work experience.

    What do you think moms earning potential is when they get divorced?

    Mom should only get 2-3 years of support?

    That seems fair to you?

    That may give mom the incentive to stay married, but what about dad?

    And of course, I understand that the roles could easily be reversed, but the premise holds.

  • Razzle2 Bluffdale, UT
    July 15, 2012 10:23 a.m.

    With the gay marriage initiative, some have argued that government should get out of marriage. Just make it a religious commitment. (Which is sometimes their basis for supporting non-traditional marriage.)

    I believe the we need a strong court system to support marriage as with any binding contract. For two people to share everything and give everything to the marriage, they need the confidence that if their partner breaks the contract they can sue for divorce and for the things they shared including the children.

  • La Vonne Laguna Niguel, CA
    July 15, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    People marry too easily and divorce far too easily. Most regret both hasty decisions. God can turn anything around, even your first hasty decision to marry what you might think is the wrong person. Any two people can learn to love and care for one another, mistakes and all.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    July 15, 2012 8:56 a.m.

    Until the state limits alimony time and amounts, then and only then will divorce rates fall.

    Women (and sometimes men) who feel they are entitled to financial support from their ex, will seek divorce when the marriage isn't going to their liking.

    If the petitioner for a divorce wants out of the marriage then she/he should only receive at maximum, 2-3 years of alimony.

    Institute this, then you will see divorce rates cut in half if not more.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 15, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    Why would you want to preserve a marriage that is rotting from the inside? Just like brown spots, squissy spots, etc. are signs of a fruit rotting from the inside, adultrey, fights, etc. are often signs or symptoms, of a marriage rotting from the inside. The base presumtion that all marriages and families should be, or even can be held together is wrong and even dangerous to "the children".

    All marriages and relationships have issues, and issues can be, and are difficult to resolve, but not all issues are "resolvable". A square peg just doesn't fit in a round hole without changing it to a round peg..and now it's no longer useful as a square peg.

    Only those in the realtionship know whether it can and should be fixed. Laws protecting the financial viability of the children is a whole different matter.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    July 15, 2012 8:47 a.m.

    Divorce has such long lasting consequences that couples contemplating divorce do not
    see. Couples with children should be slowed down in the emotional march to get out of
    a tough marriage especially if there is no abuse and just differences. Society, the couple
    and the children all face lifetime consequences. No fault divorce laws should be scrutinized perhaps some marriages could succeed by a little different perspective and counseling.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    July 15, 2012 8:15 a.m.

    There is no law that can fix the responsibility of parents/adult. If a person thinks more of himself/herself than the goodness of the children or the spouse, no government, church, counselor etc can fix such. A selfish potential husband/father during dating will remain so during marriage -and don't expect living together will fix that either... choose wisely.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    July 15, 2012 8:00 a.m.

    The only really progressive ideas that help the poor, the weak, etc are policies that actually help. Trying and failing because of incompetence or elitism or political motives isn't progressive. It ends up being regressive to the point that even the hard core conservatives won't even agree with them.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    July 15, 2012 6:55 a.m.

    Criminal Justice research clearly shows a correlation between single parent families and criminal conduct. The most consistent factor people in America's prison have in common is being raised by a single parent. It is more consistent than poverty, school drop rates, unemployment, etc. Only drug abuse exceeds "single parent" in the factors correlated to criminal conduct. Barbara DeVoe Whitehead wrote and extensive article regarding the impact of single parent families on children in the Atlantic Monthly entitled "Dan Quayle was right" in the April 1993 issue. If you want a comprehensive view of this problem, read her work. If you want to prevent crime, prevent divorce.

  • DaveRL OGDEN, UT
    July 15, 2012 6:24 a.m.

    There is too much government in our private lives already, we do not need yet another law to tell us how to live our private lives. Adults should be able too handle their own affairs without "Big Brother" legislating yet more intrusion into their lives.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    July 15, 2012 6:11 a.m.

    Are these comments from the same "get the cotton-pickin government out of our lives", calling for more laws and regulations?

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    July 15, 2012 6:10 a.m.

    I was abandoned over 30 years ago in a state with very strict divorce and separation laws. My spouse was also of a religion that frowned heavily upon divorce, and yet this spouse did not have any interest in staying with the family. We have been the victims of this. Although my children are wonderful, caring adults,they continue to suffer extreme emotional damage from a deadbeat parent. You are assuming that lenient laws encourage divorce and will prevent this from happening, but that is not true. Someone who wants to leave his/her family will do it in spite of warnings and the consequences. This is a moral dilemma, and not a legal one. No one can make a poor parent step up to be nurturing and loving and responsible. Sure, laws can attempt to force financial support, but someone can also get around that. It is appalling, but these callous, narcissistic people do exist. They can hide their true selves during the courtship phase. For those who have suffered, the only course is to learn to cope and move on. That is easier said than done for the children. Yes, selfishness is the cause.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    July 15, 2012 12:26 a.m.

    So much for keeping the government out of people's private lives...

  • Colorado Reader Littleton, CO
    July 14, 2012 11:47 p.m.

    Shocking…it all started in California!

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    July 14, 2012 11:20 p.m.

    I still think adultery should be a criminal offense for both parties. People who are unfaithful to their spouse not only damage their relationship with their spouse and significantly increase the possibility of divorce, they also place the innocent party at risk of being exposed to an STD. Passing an STD on to someone else should also be a serious criminal offense.

  • mark99 LINDON, UT
    July 14, 2012 11:14 p.m.

    I'd like to see a financial planner required to assist any family going through divorce to maintain financial solvency and keep the family assets for the benefit of the children. Once money is taken out of the equation, there will be less conflict, fewer attorneys interested in helping decay families. The court system needs to be accountable to state laws and statutes. Mental health courts are sorely needed in the event of non-compliance of parties in high conflict divorce. I'd say 80% of divorces are related to mental health issues that have gone undiagnosed and untreated.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    July 14, 2012 10:56 p.m.

    If a state doesn't require couples to have a waiting period and counseling before they get married then the couple should also be able to get divorce without a waiting period or counseling.