Rethinking divorce law: recognizing personal, social costs associated with easy divorce

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  • terra nova Park City, UT
    July 27, 2012 2:52 p.m.

    Rynn: The idea that the kids are going to be happier if the parents are happier is a myth. It is a dearly held myth. Many parents love it because it allows them to put a "we did it for the children" spin on their selfish decisions. But it is still a myth.

    Read "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" by Judith Wallerstein. In a landmark study, she follows the children of divorce over a 25-year period and catalogs their life experiences post-divorce. It makes it clear that the myth is just that... a myth.

    You see, the abuse and ugliness continues for the kids. It does not end with divorce. Their biological parents are still their parents. The marriage relationship may end, but the relationship endures because of the children. Call it the nuclear half-life of marriage. The reactor may be dead, but the radiation lives on. They (the children) are still in the middle of an abusive relationship complicated by distance, new spouses and often, additional children of other former marriages.

    Want to observe happiness? Send them to the homes of their friends whose parents have endured.

  • Rynn Las Vegas, NV
    July 20, 2012 6:58 a.m.

    Staying together for the sake of the children is not always a good thing. As someone else has said, every divorce situation is unique.

    But what if it's abuse? Whether it be physical abuse or mental abuse.
    We know of a marriage in which the wife was an extreme narcissist. She was always telling her husband how stupid he was, how ugly he was. There were isolated incidents where she did hit him. When they went to marriage counseling, she wasn't willing to compromise. She insisted on things being her way. Obviously the marriage did not work out and they are now divorced.
    Both parents have since moved on and remarried.
    The kids now see their parents in more happy situations and therefore the kids have more happy households to live in. And they see examples of happy marriages.
    The alternative was for the kids to grow up in a house where their parents were always fighting. To learn by example that being a wife meant treating your husband poorly. Or being a husband means letting your wife treat you poorly.

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    July 19, 2012 9:15 a.m.

    Shouldn't greater emphasis be on premarital training and improving and strengthening marriage relationships in every phases of marriage as opposed to merely making divorce more difficult?

    Isn't making divorce more difficult a little like putting a fence at the bottom of a cliff?

    Put it this way: You've been driving like a maniac, you hit some gravel and miss a turn, and suddenly you are end-over-end and over a cliff; the kids are not in seat belts and some dewy-eyed road-planner who HATES the inevitable carnage at the bottom of the cliff (It happens over and over again!) writes a grant and gets Federal funding to put up a HUGE razor-wire fence at the bottom, preceded by massive sharp-stakes designed to impale anyone silly enough to go over the edge because he is sure (and statistics prove him right) that far fewer people will go off the road if it is there.

    I'm not for divorce, but doesn't this solution sound silly?

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    July 18, 2012 5:45 p.m.

    Anyone who thinks divorce is easy has clearly never been through one.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 15, 2012 11:20 p.m.

    Lower divorce rates correlate with higher educational levels..

    Just another reason to improve education and graduation rates.

    My guess if the divorce process becomes too onerous people will just choose to co-habitate instead of getting married.

    July 15, 2012 10:43 p.m.

    Many wish the government would get out of the marriage business but this is not realistic and actually the absolute worst solution. An unintended consequence of this line of thinking is that the government would have to actually get More involved in the lives of parents and the raising their children. I realize some people wish the government would be more involved in our lives. I, personally, don't. Please do not fall for this line of thinking. It appeals to libertarians, but they usually have not thought out all the consequences.

  • JKR Holladay, UT
    July 15, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    Read the work of the well known social scientist Sanford Braver if you want some insight into the reasons people cite for divorce. Things like "we just grew apart" and "we don't love each other anymore". Infidelity and substance abuse are well down the list. And, believe it or not, the majority of divorces are initiated by wives, not husbands. The current legal system encourages that by providing child support and assets primarily to divorcing women. So, if you are tired of your spouse, can expect to retain the house you live in and collect money for the children, why not cast him off? My great-grandmother had no such prospects if she were to leave her farmer husband. She would have starved and he would have kept the farm and children. Think about how life has changed in the past hundred years. Is it really better?

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 15, 2012 7:00 p.m.

    Yes - divorce has consequences for children. But so does being raised by parents who do not want to be married to each other.

    Forcing couples to stay married is not going to automatically make things better for the children involved.

  • AT Elk River, MN
    July 15, 2012 3:57 p.m.

    Let's look at it this way. Let's suppose that my neighbors want a divorce. Is it any of my business? Do I have the right to say to them, "Um, no you have to jump through all these hoops to get a divorce." If I walked up to a neighbor and told them that, they'd rightly throw me off their property. If I don't have that right, then the state, acting as my agent, doesn't have that right either. The state has no business in the marriage business - either when people decide to get married or if/when they decide to divorce. The state has no right to make it difficult for someone to get married (some sort of waiting period) or difficult to get divorced.

    Now, if a couple voluntarily associate themselves with a church and want to abide by the covenants of that organization, and the church makes it difficult to get divorced (in the church), then that's their choice. If they want to remain with the church, they can go through the church's hoops.

  • WbA123 Salt Lake, UT
    July 15, 2012 3:19 p.m.

    I am currently in the middle of a divorce after 20 years of marriage. While I appreciate the sanctity and importance of marriage I am trying to leave a situation that is both controlling and emotionally abusive. That type of abuse leaves no marks except for deep emotional scars. Leaving a situation like this is extremely difficult. I know in your article you mentioned an out for people in abusive situations but I can not imagine what might provide adequate support and protection for people in the same boat as myself. The fact that I can ask for a no fault divorce helps me in ways that are practical and protect my safety. From my perspective, nothing is more frightening than the idea that, if laws were tightened, I might have to convince a judge about the reality of my situation with the opportunity for my spouse to rebutt my experience. This is a matter that should be addressed at the beginning of marriage. Adults should be givien the freedom to use their best judgement. I do support your efforts to defend the family, but please give this a second look.

  • Bob A. Bohey Marlborough, MA
    July 15, 2012 2:33 p.m.

    Rethinking marriage law: recognizing personal, social costs associated with easy marriage.

    Start at the beginning, not the end.

  • L White Springville, UT
    July 15, 2012 12:34 p.m.

    When wandering eyes and wandering hearts break the hearts and lives of a spouse and of children, should we just pretend that divorce will always be part of life?

    In my grandparents day, divorce was not acceptable. Divorce meant failure and people worked hard to not be a failure. Not every marriage was perfect but people knew that a handshake was a bond and a wedding vow was to be kept no matter what else failed.

    Now jump forward to the 60's and 70's when many of us were growing up. Some thought that the "pill" meant that they didn't need to wait for marriage before having sex. They developed wandering eyes and wandering hearts - and never grew up.

    Now jump forward twenty or thirty years later when the children of those who wandered outside of marriage are marrying. What can a wandering mother or father tell a son or daughter about chastity? About keeping vows? About being morally clean?

    The children and the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren will pay the piper and society will suffer.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    July 15, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    Most religions allow divorce, though they don't officially approve. Jump through some hoop and everyone pretends the marriage never happened. If religions have loopholes, why should goverment carry the moral banner?

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    July 15, 2012 10:47 a.m.

    Given the serious consequences of divorce, reasonable legislation regarding marriage and divorce should be put in place. Just a waiting period between application for a wedding license and receiving the license, can help people to not act impulsively. Before a divorce is granted, financial terms should be legally worked out so children aren't put in poverty. When I was young, divorce held a social stigma. It is no longer a stigma. So in addition to legal restrictions, perhaps some kind of social disapproval would help curb the tide.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    July 15, 2012 10:23 a.m.

    Its up to the couple to make a marriage work, not the State of Utah.

    Don't expect a dysfunctional government to fix a dysfunctional marriage.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    July 15, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    You can use government to force a husband and wife to stay legally married, but you cannot force two people to love each other if they don't. Nearly everyone will agree that marriage and divorce should not be taken casually. But every divorce and situation is unique, and not all no-fault no-responsibility divorces are due to impulsive or short-sighted "transitory concerns" as you put them. And I would argue that an unhappy, dysfunctional marriage that should have ended years ago can be damaging to children as well. So be careful how you do this, or you conservatives just might fulfill Reagan's classic: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    July 15, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    Divorce is the back end of a problematic relationship, and making it harder to end the contractual relationship and move on doesn't solve the underlying issues. Maybe more emphasis should be put on avoiding younger marriages, discouraging short courtships, premarital counseling, marriage counseling, and similar activities to head off the problems before and as they arise. Waiting until divorce is on the table is too late, and forcing a marriage to stay intact at that point is in no one's interest.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    July 14, 2012 11:06 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more. The victims of divorce are the children and many people who divorce say, in effect, "My temporary happiness or convenience is more important than the long term happiness of my own children. I prefer to mess up my children in order to get out of a situation that I voluntarily got myself and my children into." It is so selfish. On the other hand, I have see married people in a difficult situation, grow up, make changes and provide their kids with a healthy environment. I'll be forever grateful that my parents stuck it out even when things were tough. They set a great example for me.