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Today: May 26, 2024

The conservative argument against no-fault divorce

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LA Post: The conservative argument against no-fault divorce
March 06, 2024
Nahal Garakani - LA Post

Even though no-fault divorce has been legal for over 50 years, many conservatives still argue against it. They think ending a marriage without blaming someone goes against family values. Some even want current no-fault divorce laws repealed. But supporters say no-fault divorce gives people more freedom and fairness. They warn that limiting it could lead to real harms. This big split shows a divide between different worldviews in America — those who think morals are relative and those who see moral truth as universal.

When California legalized no-fault divorce in 1969, it began a nationwide shift in how the law views failed marriages. Within a decade, every state permitted couples to end unions without proving fault or agreement from both spouses. This reform responded to the complexities and absurdities created by requiring fault grounds. Faking adultery or moving across state lines had become common methods for obtaining divorces. No-fault laws aimed to reduce unnecessary litigation, deception and state intrusion into private marital matters.

Today, no-fault divorce faces criticism as some social conservatives achieving success on issues like abortion seek new targets. Calls for reform or repeal cite concerns about family breakdown and the welfare of men and children. Some connect no-fault laws to higher divorce rates, though current filings have declined to 50-year lows. Groups like the Coalition for Divorce Reform allege Constitutional violations from permitting unilateral decisions. 

The religious right provides much opposition based on scriptural interpretations about marriage’s sanctity. Prominent figures like new House Speaker Mike Johnson view no-fault divorce as promoting amorality. Johnson advocates for restrictive “covenant marriages” needing proven fault to dissolve. These exist in three states, reflecting similar belief systems about marriage’s divine nature versus civil contracts. Critics counter that medieval attitudes limiting personal freedom, especially for women, underlie these arguments.

For feminists and abuse victim advocates, limiting no-fault divorce raises alarms about controlling behavior and endangering women. Research correlates implementing no-fault laws with decreased female suicide rates and intimate partner homicides. By empowering individuals to leave unhealthy marriages unilaterally, legal experts argue no-fault divorce actually strengthens families. It reduces pressure to remain in exploitative or violent relationships. This analysis connects no-fault laws to larger efforts promoting gender equality and autonomy. 

The debate extends to no-fault divorce’s effects on children. Some studies observe negative outcomes correlated to parental separation, while others find most children exhibit resilience. Scholars argue divorce itself matters less than other factors affecting child welfare before and after split-ups. Either way, data shows kids living in high-conflict homes face significant risks and challenging ideas that benefit children.

Behind clashing ideologies lies a more fundamental question - whether failed marriages reflect private problems or broader societal failings. If the latter, perhaps addressing economic stresses, social disconnect, inadequate relationship role models or other drivers of discord holds more promise than battling over divorce laws. Their reform may prove moot without meaningful cultural shifts from all corners toward compassion and understanding. https://www.lapost.com/from-couple-goals-to-separate-lives-why-tinseltown-love-stories-are-ending/

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