Reforming divorce law will benefit marriage

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    May 14, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    "No-fault" divorce is an absolute a crock....a total farce that simply does not exist.

    In every single divorce that ever occured in any country in any age, selfishness on the part of one or both spouses caused the marriage rift and eventual divorce.


    May 9, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    I think one of the benefits of eliminating no-fault divorce is that people would take marriage more seriously - and that's a good thing, because hardly anything in life could be more serious. When people are married without having to be fully committed, the chances of the marriage "working" (meaning that the two are willing to work things out when difficulties arise) are somewhere between slim and none.

    I recently learned about a curious aspect of the human psyche, which is this: when we make irrevocable choices we are happier than when we make revocable choices, regardless of what the choice might be. So by making it easier to bail out of a marriage may actually decrease the happiness of married couples in general, and result in people getting divorced who might otherwise be much happier in marriage and might stay married. Curious beings are we...

  • RFLASH Salt Lake City, UT
    May 8, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    This kind of attitude really ticks me off! Lets see, I can not marry my partner, who I have been with for fifteen years! Can you imagine what it feels like! Each time you try to make life better, your wonderful neighbors are right their to stop you! How wonderful, if you happen to be heterosexual, we will make you stay in that marriage as long as we can and we will force you to go to counseling! They don't care about the children of gay couples! Like my dad always taught me, stay out of your neighbor's business! If somebody wants a divorce, it isn't the business of some self righteous busy body to decide whether they should have it or not! People here pretend to care about families, but I don't believe like I once did! Look what they do to gay people! How many spiritual parents have got rid of their gay child? Yeah, it truly makes me ill!

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 8, 2014 11:08 a.m.

    @JoeBlow 10:18 a.m. May 7, 2014

    Would you stay married if you found out your wife voted for Obama?

    Sorry, couldn't resist. Hey, its a joke...


    I don't see it as that much of a joke, based on the things he's posted here. I think voting decisions are something he decides, and she says "yes, dear." Hopefully she would make up her own mind when she was in the voting booth but, based on what I've seen of couples with the dynamic he shows here (two examples among many I've seen -- the Elders Quorum President who asked my husband how he could "let" me go to law school, the Relief Society President who said she and her husband never disagreed and didn't understand why I said I felt sorry for her), I don't see that happening. And that's sad for her.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 8, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    grounded and rooted,

    She gets respect from me, but I can't change what she is. I call a spade a spade and I still love her - as the mother of my children.

  • grounded and rooted China, 00
    May 8, 2014 10:05 a.m.


    I appreciated your story, and agreed with your thoughts, until you labeled your former spouse as “selfish, lazy and mean-spirited.”

    She, as the mother of your children, deserves some measure of respect, for that alone.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    May 8, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    @James E;

    You wouldn't be "compelled by the courts" if you would just do what is right in the first place.


    Once upon a time, I voted pretty much straight republican. These days there are very few republican candidates I could even bring myself to vote for. So very, very few.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:27 p.m.

    @Thinkman: I'm guessing she knew much earlier but waited years to finally make a decision.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 4:16 p.m.

    Rushing into marriage usually isn't a reason why people who are married for 15, 25, 35 years get a divorce.

    I had a 5 month courtship with my wife but 3 children later and 17 years of marriage, she literally woke up one day and decided that she didn't want to be married.

    People should take their time to get to know each other better, but as the stats say, those who divorce get divorced after 10 years of marriage. Selfishness is the primary reason for divorce.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 3:03 p.m.

    Divorce is way too easy.

    Our children are victimized the most. Divorce, even if for the sake of the children, should be very difficult to get if there isn't clear evidence of physical or repeated emotional abuse, alcohol or drug addictions or infidelity on the part of one or both spouses, or if there is clear and present danger to the children by one or both of the parents.

    The spouse who files for divorce without any of these aforementioned conditions present in the marriage should not be entitled to any alimony and should not be granted primary custody.

    Why do I feel this way, because my children and I (to a much lesser extent) are victims of divorce that was pursued by their very selfish, lazy and mean-spirited mother who had NO reason to seek a divorce from me. She cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for petitioning for divorce from me several years ago. This was a few weeks AFTER she reaffirmed her love and devotion to me in a letter, to our therapist and to our bishop.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    If we ban divorce, maybe people would be less likely to rush in to marriage.
    A 3 month courtship is quite common in parts south of SLC. Maybe as a society, Utahns should encourage people to slow down and perhaps feel less guilty of expressing love to each other.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 7, 2014 1:58 p.m.


    I used to be a very reliable GOP voter. Lately, not so much.

    So, it can happen. People can and do change. Or in my case, I found that I was getting too embarrassed to admit when I did.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    2 Bits:

    I completely agree with your advice to have a much deeper sense of what a person is composed of *before* getting married, but there are lots and lots of examples of people changing fundamental aspects of themselves AFTER they're married.

    For example, how do you handle the situation where a spouse decides, based on life experience, study, further contemplation... that they want to change their church affiliation? Some spouses may decide they want to join the LDS religion. Others decide they want to leave the LDS religion. Or Catholicism, or Judaism, or Evangelical Christianity, etc.

    For some people these are issues that transcend mortality, and so it becomes a much bigger deal than a lot of other issues, there becomes an urgency to find the permanent eternal companion.

  • James E Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    No-fault divorce was our first foray into changing the definition of marriage to accommodate the selfishness of adults. It led to the undermining of the nuclear family, rising crime, increasing child abuse, lower economic security for all involved and a massive shift in Americans' attitudes towards the validity of marriage.

    And now we're being compelled by the courts to change the definition of marriage yet again. What fresh new disasters will this bring?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    May 7, 2014 12:31 p.m.

    To "Ranch" women in abusive marriages don't have to file for divorce using "no fault" as justification. They can file for divorce on the grounds of abuse, and that is sufficient.

  • eaglerun Midvale, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    Stop being a ME man and the divorce rate goes down. Most come from selfishness from one side or the other. Maybe teaching our children not to be self absorbed would prepare them better for marriage. Good examples of marriage helps future marriages last and survive. Adults need to start giving examples of good hard working marriages so the younger generation can learn how to make it last.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    May 7, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    Husbands should marry wives in the hopes that their wives will change them for the better, and wives should hope their husbands will change them for the better. Marriage must be a transforming experience, or it is a waste of divine potential.

    Marriage relationships that do not grow run the risk of stagnation and ultimately will dissolve. This is the substance of Eternal Progression.

    This kind of marriage isn't a "fairy tale", and it has been growing for us for over 40 years.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    May 7, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    "After having been married for more than forty years, my wife and I have learned from each to respect each to trust each to care for each other. We've have many opportunities to give up on each other, but we knew that failure is not an option."

    Having been married to my beautiful, LDS wife for more than thirty years (both our first marriage), I can attest to the opposite attitude.

    We wake up every morning knowing that the other person could, if they wanted to, walk out the door and never look back.

    "No-fault divorce" legally and economically serves as a reminder to me NOT to be a big jerk.

    We have also learned how to respect, trust and care for each other, because we know that "failure" was ALWAYS an option! We don't take each other for granted.

    When his wife was spitting mad at him, I had one LDS friend tell me that "she doesn't have to like me; she just has to stay married to me".

    I think that's a horrible attitude.

    His wife left him for someone who treats her better.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    If the number 1 cause of Divorce is economics,
    Why not address the Number 1 cause of Divorce?

    I'm getting so tired of laws, lawyers, and law suits,
    and figuring out how to keep SSM from getting married,
    completley ignoring the problems we have will all the divorces
    going on that shoudn't be happening in the 1st place!

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Re: "Conservative Christians have the highest divorce rate in the country."

    Only if you don't count that huge, hedonistic "Friends-like" American population component, of all ages and sexual orientations, that engages in profligate unmarried serial polygamy, ignoring the consequences to themselves, their partners, the children they're responsible for creating, and the Nation, and that is applauded and extolled by liberal secularists.

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    Love this article and agree with every word written. Thank you Beverly!

  • SLC guy Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 11:05 a.m.

    Great article. No-fault divorce and a self centered society play large rolls in the downfall of our children's futures. This has a much larger negative affect than SSM only because it is so much more common. If you marry and don't have kids feel free to part ways. Once kids are in the mix the game changes! Only abuse should be a reason for separation once that commitment is made. "Falling out of love" just doesn't cut it.

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    Re: "Would you stay married if you found out your wife voted for Obama?"...

    The question SHOULD be... would you MARRY someone who would vote for Obama?


    The time to figure this out (IF it's a show-stopper for you)... is BEFORE you get married (not after).

    You should figure stuff like this out BEFORE you get married (if it would cause a divorce). Not be shocked to learn she is an Obama fan only after years of marriage.

    Also things like, religion, culture, family traditions, values, does she want kids, can she live on your expected income, does she want to work, what kind of work does she want to do, education, etc.

    Just getting married because you like each other... then finding out your religion is incompatible, or one doesn't want family, or there is some other show-stopper incompatibility (like being an Obama fan)... should be exposed and worked out BEFORE marriage (not after).

  • koseighty The Shire, UT
    May 7, 2014 10:49 a.m.

    Yes, it's important to insert more government regulations into the personal lives of citizens. That'll fix everything. Forcing people into the molds we envision for others always works out so well.

    While we're at it, we should outlaw "conservative Christianity." Conservative Christians have the highest divorce rate in the country. If we really care about marriages, conservative Christianity has to go -- for the good of marriage!

    Or, maybe we could let people figure out their relationships on their own.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 7, 2014 10:18 a.m.


    Would you stay married if you found out your wife voted for Obama?

    Sorry, couldn't resist. Hey, its a joke...

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 7, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    I know many couples co-habitating for 30+ years.
    To be honest, they are happier than most married people.

    A friend told me it's more the way things USED to be.

    100 years ago - the man pretty much walked away with everything he'd earned.

    That wasn't fair - so they changed the laws.

    In the years since - the Pedulum has swung too far the oppostie way,
    It has slowly gone from a 50/50 split,
    to now -- when the woman gets to keep the house, the cars, 50% of his retirement, the children,
    AND he still gets stuck with her Alimony and Childsupport!

    Today - a man is doomed if he gets divorced,
    and the woman has everything to gain TO get divorced!

    Our Stake President is live'd right now,
    Sisters are looking for a divorce for the Stupidest of reasons,
    and as a lawyer by Profession -- he blames much of it with today's tipped scale.

    Being unmarried balances everything back to that 50/50 split.

    So, looking at it strictly from a financial/business/capitalistic stand point and not a religous "sin" POV --

    Why get married?

    It's a loosing investment.
    A for-sure lost bet.

    BTW -- His view, not mine...

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    Maybe instead of paying a small fee to the Government... they should have to pay a HUGE fee to the Government. Because dissolving the marriage more than doubles the chances that the children in this family are going to end up on at least some type of public assistance (from their church or from the government).

    The Government has a financial interest in the divorce not happening.

    The decision to divorce is most likely going to cost the government (meaning the tax payers) thousands and thousands of dollars in assistance given over the years the children struggle to adulthood in a single parent family.

    It's super hard for one parent to work enough to support the children, AND be there enough to be both the parents. It's just more than one person can do.

    It would be interesting to know how much each divorce costs the Government....

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    May 7, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    Ranch: women or men in truly abusive relationships won't have any problem getting a divorce under stricter divorce laws. That argument is a complete misnomer and a scare tactic of those that want to bail whenever they want and for any reason. For heaven's sake, when children are involved, let's at least make the marriage contract harder to break than our cable or phone contract.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    Re: ". . . economic anxiety will continue to dampen the overall marriage rate and the birth rate."

    Actually, your cause/effect arrow is pointed the wrong way.

    It's actually lack of marriage that causes the economic anxiety.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 7, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    Why plan for divorce? Why have a "parachute" ready, "just in case"? Mature people can learn to work things out. They can learn that everything does not revolve around them. They can "get over it", whatever that "it" happens to be. They can learn to care more about their children and their spouse than they care about themselves. But self-centered people will fight instead of learning to work together. They will demand that the world itself change to meet their expectations.

    After having been married for more than forty years, my wife and I have learned from each other. We've learned how to respect each other. We've learned how to trust each other. We've learned how to care for each other. We've have many opportunities to give up on each other, but we knew that failure is not an option.

    I'm not saying that divorce is never warranted, but too many people abandon ship at even the hint of a squall. The squalls teach us to be sailors. Rough times in marriage teach us to trust, to love, to understand. Give marriage a chance.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    Numerous studies indicate that having children out of wedlock, or trying to raise a family of children on your own (after divorce)... is the biggest factor in determining if your children will be raised in poverty.

    It's worth trying to avoid it.

    The best way to avoid it is to make sure you pick a spouse you can live with (not just temporarily). And a spouse that is committed to pulling together, working together, giving up what they want, and doing WHATEVER it takes to keep the family together... no matter what comes up in life.

    It also helps to find a mate who has the skills and interests needed to support the family. And one who can delay their own gratification and focus on the needs of the family as a whole.

    Divorce doesn't make life "easier" (ask anybody). And starting a family as a single-parent is not optimal.

    To give yourself (and your children) the best chance at happiness... put serious consideration into picking your mate, and marrying them, with the intent of staying together.

    Our culture today teaches children that divorce is almost inevitable, so plan on it... that's sad...

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    I'll support making divorce more difficult to obtain only _after_ laws are enacted to make it a lot harder to get a marriage license.

    Starry-eyed twenty year-olds, emotionally immature and generally clueless about the realities of work, money, religion, child-rearing, sex, etc.... it is in fact amazing that half of their marriages survive more than ten years.

    My hat's off to those couples who marry when they're barely out of adolescence who stay happy and together for the rest of their lives. It's wonderful, but we should acknowledge that it is rare and no more "normal" than a teenager's face without acne.

    The time for mandatory counseling is before marriage, not after.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    Making divorce more difficult could also have an adverse effect on women in abusive relationships.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    May 7, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    I've been divorced and trust me, it was a sad and exhausting experience. Trying to justify it to the government wouldn't have made it any easier and it wouldn't have saved my marriage. It never fails to amuse how many who rant about getting the government out of people's lives have no problem with striking down no-fault divorce. The reasons a couple decides to split is nobody's else business but theirs.

    And pragmatistferlife has an excellent point: maybe Mormon culture needs to slightly less gung-ho about two kids getting married as soon as they can if they're really serious about battling divorce. I went to BYU-Idaho (Ricks back then) and the meet-in-September-married-by-Christmas thing was very common...

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    I don't know what to think about this. On one side I see the need for people to be able to obtain a divorce easily and on the other I understand that we should work to lower divorce rates. I guess I'm just not sure how much changes in divorce law would help but I readily admit that I don't know.

    I do know that our society has a real need to change how people get married. I know that growing up in this culture I believed in the fairy tale of marriage. Nothing I had learned growing up from my parents, or church, or anything else prepared me for what marriage really was. I think we need to work on preparing people for the realities of marriage in addition to divorce reform. People are getting married expecting a certain type of life and have no idea what the reality will be like.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2014 8:07 a.m.

    Everyone wants to improve conditions for children, and there are certainly divorces that occur on flimsy grounds. Making it tougher to get divorced would certainly buttress marriages that already exist, and perhaps prevent some future divorces, but also prevent some future marriages.

    Employment uncertainty is the biggest underlying problem with marriage. This is the elephant in the room. We're moving to a shorter term "jobs" reality and much less a "career" reality, as economic change picks up speed.

    As the economy moves toward accelerated upheaval in employment, young people concluding that getting married and having kids is a much bigger economic risk than their parents faced. Some younger women will decide to have children on their own, as their biological clocks tick away, but economic anxiety will continue to dampen the overall marriage rate and the birth rate.

    Not rocket science, folks.

  • Dread Pirate Roberts Cleveland , OH
    May 7, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    I have been divorced 4 times now.

    I thought I was marrying pscho-crazy-women.

    Turns out I'm actually a jerk to live with.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 7, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    What stuns me about this argument is the complete lack of concern for the act of entering into a marriage. It's just assumed two people "fell in love" got married and now we should save this agreement.

    You're not mature enough in this state to drink until you're 21 but in our infinite wisdom we're sure that you are emotionally mature enough for marriage at 18. In most areas you can enter into the contract of marriage before you can buy a car on your own.

    Maybe rather than trying to patch together dysfunctional relationships that the author says will have all kinds of harmful consequences if allowed to split, we ought to spend time figuring out what mistakes were made in the first place in forming the relationship.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:50 a.m.

    @one vote;

    So, you'd be switching the "small fee" over to the church? Way to make the churches even richer - you KNOW they'd charge a fee for the service.

    Get churches out of the marriage business; they have no business telling you that you may/may not marry or you may/may not divorce.

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    May 7, 2014 7:45 a.m.

    @Ranch - you make a great point. The right really is driving the idea that marriage doesn't really matter.

    @one vote.

    The state is involved in marriage because of the myriad laws and protections and benefits conferred by marriage. Remove the "civil" aspect of marriage and all that goes away, from a free name change at the start to inheritance benefits at death and over 1,000 benefits in between.

    People pontificate about the religious fluff of the ceremony, but most will form a lynch mob if you try to remove the civil protections.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2014 7:15 a.m.

    Government should get out of divorce. If two persons want to marry they should enter a private contract with church or organization. Then that church or organization will be responsible for the Divorce. In Utah get married by the Bishop and he is in charge of divorce. The County doesn't need the small fee and have to pay for divorce judges.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    May 7, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    "Happy, healthy marriages and families should be on everyone's agenda, ..."

    When you make it impossible for some people to marry when these people would love to marry, you are telling other people that you want to marry that marriage isn't really all that necessary. That they should just 'live together' and be happy with what they have.

    People are far more likely to listen to what YOU DO, than what you say.

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    May 7, 2014 6:35 a.m.

    A good article with some valid observations. The decline in marriage is due to long-term changes in many parts of society.

    More counseling before marriage would help.

    Understanding that gender roles are an artificial construct. Trying to keep family roles in the 50s while society is more egalitarian is a major problem - in other words, men can cook and clean and care for children as well as women, so be equal.

    This argument also supports the need for SSM, to add stability to families headed by gays and lesbians. Same-Sex Marriage would benefit marriage and society as a whole.

  • Bifftacular Spanish Fork, Ut
    May 7, 2014 6:11 a.m.

    I was divorced 13 years ago. When people would ask me what the reasons were for the divorce, my answer was because my wife wanted to... and it was as simple as that. No other reason was needed by the court nor did they care. I agree completely with the author of this article. No fault divorce has been disastrous on the family. Too many people are divorcing these days because they want to - taking no or little concern for how that will affect their children. When the marriage gets rocky, (and what marriage doesn't at one point or another?) or things aren't panning out quite like they were envisioned, people are bailing - looking for greener pastures that rarely present themselves. And the children suffer - big time. It is harder these days to get out of your cell phone contract than your marriage and that is fundamentally wrong.