Resources from Marriage Savers: Columns
A New Year's
Resolution: Cut America's Divorce Rate In Half
(first of three parts)
Copyright © 2008 Michael J. McManus
I'd like to propose a New Year's resolution that could preserve a half
million marriages a year now ending in divorce by cutting America's
divorce rate in half.
The biggest winners of such an achievement would be 500,000 kids who
would not experience their parents divorce. Children are the innocent
victims who deserve a bright future.
I wrote a 101 page book this year outlining how such a reform could
occur, How To Cut America's Divorce Rate in Half: A Strategy Every
State Should Adopt. I suggest that state legislators and
governors be asked this question:
"Though a divorce is opposed in four out of five cases by one spouse, it
is always granted. Should couples with children be
required to obtain written mutual consent for the dissolution of their
marriage if there are no allegations of major fault such as proven
adultery or physical abuse?"
In 48 states No Fault Divorce Law no longer requires proof of major
fault to get a divorce. One spouse simply claims the marriage has
"irreconcilable differences," and divorce is always granted. Yet in 80
percent of the cases, their spouse says the marriage is reconcilable,
according to Andrew Cherlin and Frank Furstenburg in their book, Divided
The key moral question, which every pastor, teacher, social worker,
lawyer and parent must answer is this: should a marriage, entered into
willingly by two people, be dissolved unilaterally by one unhappy parent
- or should both parents have an equal voice in the decision?
To put it differently, shouldn't the parent most committed to the
marriage and to the children have an equal voice in a decision that will
change their lives forever?
Billy Miller came home for lunch one day to discover that his wife was
gone along with most of the furniture and their teenage daughter and
son. It was a shock that made him feel "total devastation."
If he had had a voice on the divorce, he would have said no. It
shattered their children, two of whom have had babies out-of-wedlock and
a third is divorced. Without a model of how a husband and wife make a
marriage work, children of divorce find it difficult to bond with
someone of the opposite sex.
Did his ex-wife create a happier life? No. Within four years she
married a high school boyfriend who deserted his wife to marry her. He
kicked her out after just four months. She married a third time, but it
lasted only 8 months. Billy remains her friend, and he prays for her
Billy is now a divorce reformer. His local newspaper published his
recent letter with questions that deserve answers from the legal
profession, clergy and state legislators:
1. "Is marriage a legally binding agreement between two citizens? If
it is not, why should it be registered with the legal system, the local
courts and the state?
2. "If it takes two people in agreement to initiate a legally binding
contract, and two people in agreement to end a legally binding
contract," why can one spouse terminate a marriage?
3. "The person breaching a (typical) contract is generally the one
penalized. How is it fair in divorce to punish the one who is not
breaching the contract and, at the same time, reward the one who is?
The one objecting to the granting of the divorce is deprived of all
rights as the divorce is granted.
"Saddam Hussein received more justice than do American citizens who want
to keep their marriage and family intact," Billy Miller wrote.
No Fault Divorce is also unconstitutional. The 5th and 14th Amendments
to the Constitution guarantee that "No person be deprived of life,
liberty or property without due process of law."
Where is "due process" if the divorce is always granted?
Miller writes, "Due process is: hearing what you did wrong
(accusations), with proof; offering a defense against those accusations;
hearing the judge's decision based on the evidence presented, and the
right to appeal that decision."
You can take a personal responsibility to help reform No Fault Divorce.
1. Call or write your state representative or state senator, asking
them to reform the law.
2. Ask your pastor to not only support this change, but to seek the
backing of other clergy in the community, to ask state legislators for
3. Ask your local legal community, the Bar Association, to support
In short, will you declare a New Year's Resolution to help reform No
Fault Divorce with Mutual Consent Divorce in cases involving minor