In the USA, Should Divorce Without Cause Be Eliminated?

Should divorce without cause be eliminated?

If it were, we would likely find ourselves back in the situation that led to the creation of no-fault divorce in the first place.

What is no-fault divorce? A divorce that can be obtained without having to prove “fault” on the part of your spouse. What does that mean?

Fault-based divorce is a divorce decree when the court finds that your spouse is at fault for doing or failing to do something that irreparably damaged the marriage relationship. Fault bases include in most jurisdictions: abuse/cruelty, adultery, abandonment, contracting a “loathsome disease” (i.e., a sexually transmitted disease), being sentenced to prison/committing a felony, habitual drunkenness, and impotency at the time of the marriage. These are known as “marital faults”.

No-fault divorce is a divorce one can obtain without having to prove one’s spouse has committed any kind of marital fault. One can simply file for divorce because one wants a divorce.

Before no-fault divorce was made law (it’s the law in every state in the U.S.A. now), an unhappy couple in which both spouses both agreed they wanted a divorce would have to collude and lie to the court and claim that one of the spouses had committed a marital fault, so that they could get divorced. That was clearly not a good thing, and so it was believed that by making no-fault divorce legal it would reduce the number of unhappy marriages.

The unintended consequence of no-fault divorce is, however, that far too many people give up too easily on what could have been a happy marriage because no-fault divorce is so easy to get.

Bottom line: we already know what would happen if we made no-fault divorce illegal (no matter how well-intentioned our reasons for doing so): couples who really wanted a divorce would simply lie to the court, claim fault where there is none, and obtain an ill-gotten divorce anyway.

We cannot reduce the divorce rate unless and until society learns and accepts the fact that a strong marriage and family is more than worth the effort and sacrifice it requires. We need to value marriage and family, not just give lip service to its importance. And we need to accept that with exception so rare as to be negligible, men and women are happiest and their lives the most worthwhile and fulfilling in the roles of spouses and parents.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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