Tag: marriage

I’m a Divorce Lawyer. Too Many People Divorce.

I’m a divorce lawyer. I’m not divorced (God willing, I won’t ever be), I am opposed to divorce generally (while there are times when a divorce is plainly necessary, most of the time divorce makes what one is suffering, what one’s spouse, and what one’s family are suffering worse). The family law legal system is adequately designed but poorly administered (and that includes many of the litigants).

While I acknowledge that many people marry foolishly and recklessly, people divorce far too often.

If your marriage is not placing your physical safety or life in danger, if your spouse is not flouting his/her marital vows, and yet you are still contemplating divorce, ask yourself if it’s your spouse or even merely being married that is your problem (it likely isn’t).

If your spouse or marriage is not your problem, they are likely more help to you than a hindrance, and throwing them away will likely do you (and your spouse) more harm than good.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What Assumptions Can You Make About Someone Who Has Been Divorced Twice?

You can assume whatever you want about anyone or anything, but that does not mean your assumptions are accurate.

And there is this from Merriam-Webster: “Although presume and assume both mean “to take something as true,” “presume” implies more confidence or evidence backed reasoning. An “assumption” suggests there is little evidence supporting your guess.

People make assumptions all the time, often (but not always) to their detriment and the detriment of the people of whom they make assumptions. You know what they say about people who assume.

That stated, assumptions based upon sufficient evidence are not only reasonable but often warranted or even wholly justified. If you see someone turning red and then blue and appearing to be unable to breathe while making the sign of choking, you can assume he/she is choking. But it’s still an assumption. You didn’t see the would-be choking victim actually swallow anything, after all.

So, what can you safely assume about someone of whom you know nothing other than the fact that he/she has been divorced twice? In fairness to one contemplating making an assumption and to the person twice divorced:

  • It’s fair to wonder why someone has been divorced twice and whether the divorcee may not be “marriage material”—especially if you are contemplating marrying the twice-divorced person.

o   It’s fair to assume (assuming—see what I did there?—you want your marriage to last) that if you intend to marry the twice-divorced person, your marriage will have a lower chance of success than a marriage to someone who has never been divorced. Statistics indicate that in the U.S., just under 50% percent of first-time marriages end in divorce, while 65-67% of second marriages, and about 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

  • It’s unfair to assume that the divorce was the twice-divorced person’s fault either or both times. It’s fair to “wonder if”, but not to “assume that”.
  • It’s also fair to fair to “wonder if”, but not to “assume that”:

o   the twice-divorced person was the cause of one or both of the divorces and whether the divorcee has poor judgment in selecting spouses.

o   the twice-divorced person is either a sucker or someone who marries suckers.

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I Can Prepare a Prenuptial Agreement for You, but With Rare, Particular Exception, I Advise Against It.

Most attorney websites that contain “articles” on prenuptial agreements aren’t really articles but thinly veiled sales pitches for prenuptial agreements. This post is not one of those.

I have always believed and still believe that prenuptial agreements breed distrust, disloyalty, and defeatism in marriage for young people who contemplate marriage for the first time. That stated, at this point in my career as a divorce attorney (27 years), I struggle more than ever over the value and appropriateness of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Why?

One reason: if you trust the legal system to do right by you and your family, your trust is misplaced. So very many family law attorneys are profiteers. Courts are understaffed, judges and commissioners get jaded, expedience too often substitutes for evidence. I cannot put it more clearly and concisely than this: “Extricate yourself from the system, don’t try to vindicate yourself within it” (Peretz Partensky). A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may (may) have value if it keeps the control of your divorce in your and your spouse’s hands instead of in the hands of a court.

Another reason: divorce laws and their application are unfair to men. Now, certainly there is plenty of unfairness to go around in the court’s treatment of women too, men generally get treated worse. Permit me to explain my perspective.

Men still generally have greater incomes and greater wealth than women generally. In no-fault divorces, men generally get soaked far more often than women. There are good men out there who married in the utmost good faith whose wives did more than simply use them up and cast them aside by divorcing them; they essentially enslaved their husbands for the rest of their good years (and into their not so good years) by stripping them of at least half of all they had, driving their husbands into debt, and burdening them with oftentimes ludicrous child support and alimony obligations. Because the law permits it.  A YouTuber named Pearl ( and her guests discuss this at length. As a result of the sheer volume of discussion alone, they do a good job of examining the problem. Although her content is principally light and entertaining, the reality and the cognitive dissonance underlying her content is compelling.

The solution to the misery of divorce does not lie, however, in “making divorce laws fairer.”

Ensuring fairness and equity in divorce is important, no question, but the “divorce problem” is much greater than a legal problem and its solution does not even begin to lie in merely changing laws or enforcing them better. Obviously, divorce needs to exist to remedy serious threats and injustices that cannot be remedied any other way. But divorce is far too easy now, and marriage is criminally undervalued. It’s destroying our culture.

This may seem odd coming from a divorce attorney, but I believe to my core in marriage and family. We all need to devote ourselves to fostering and preserving and improving marriage and family life as the greatest source and protector of personal and societal purpose, peace and prosperity. There are causes bigger than ourselves and that are worthy of our sacrifices to see them succeed. Marriage and family are two of them. We are better individually by being loving and devoted members of a nuclear family. Even Kramden ( or Bickersons ( )-style marriage and family life is far better than a world littered with broken marriages and families, self-absorption, and loneliness. Children need and deserve (it is their right!) to be reared in a nuclear family by a loving mother and father.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Are couples with prenups more likely to divorce?

Research is hard to come by. Reliable research even harder. But here is what I could find in short order (how accurate it is I cannot say):

Maybruch, C., Weissman, S., & Pirutinsky, S. (2017). Marital outcomes and consideration of divorce among Orthodox Jews after signing a religious prenuptial agreement to facilitate future divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 58(4), 276–287.


This study examined marital satisfaction, marital adjustment, and consideration of divorce among Orthodox Jews in North America (N = 2,652). These marital outcomes were compared for individuals who signed or did not sign a religious prenuptial agreement that facilitates a woman’s future ability to receive a religious divorce from her husband. Results indicated a higher level of marital satisfaction among those who signed the religious prenuptial agreement, and no significant difference in marital adjustment or tendency to consider divorce between groups of individuals who signed or did not sign the religious prenuptial agreement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

This paper did not address the question of whether prenuptial agreements lead to divorce, but, among the other subject it touches, “discusses two major explanations for the paucity of prenuptial agreements: underestimation of the value of prenuptial agreements, especially due to false optimism that marriages will last; and a belief that discussing prenuptial agreements would signal uncertainty about marriage.”

In the event of divorce – statistically, the reality for nearly half the marriages in America – a prenuptial agreement has the potential to save the divorcing couple anguish, arguments, and thousands of dollars. It may represent an exit agreement far closer to their wishes than the court-ordered divorce. A good prenuptial agreement can even exert a positive force on a healthy marriage.

Fear and Loathing in Marriage: The Psychological and Financial Destruction Caused by Prenuptial Author: Anne Cominsky Mentor: Kurt Meyer, Professor of English, Irvine Valley College Historically, prenuptial agreements as a condition of saying “I do” were sought out by the economically stronger partner as financial protection from divorce. Currently, legal experts and financial advisors agree the general use of prenuptial agreements is on the rise. A random poll suggests that over half of the general public view prenuptial agreements favorably.

If You Want a Prenup, You Don’t Want Marriage

If you’re thinking about a prenup, or — worse yet — your intended is pushing a prenup on you, you might as well go ahead and just cancel the wedding. There’s an easier way to keep your assets and income separate: it’s called cohabitation. In most states, cohabiting partners are free to walk away from their relationship with their income and assets intact, all without the hassle and expense of a divorce. There’s an easier way to keep your assets and income separate: it’s called cohabitation. But if you’re truly in love, and you wish to share your life, your body, your children and your checkbook with your beloved “till death do you part,” marriage is generally the ticket. Marriage is about establishing a common life together, about putting someone else ahead of yourself, and sharing the things that mean the most to you, including your money. And, paradoxically, if you take this other-centered approach to marriage, you’re not only less likely to divorce, but also to enjoy a happier relationship. My research suggests that couples who embrace a generous orientation toward their marriage, as well as those who take a dim view of divorce, are significantly more likely to be happy in their marriages. A National Center for Family and Marriage Research study finds that couples who share joint bank accounts are less likely to get divorced. In fact, married couples who do not pool their income are 145 percent more likely to end up in divorce court, compared to couples who share a bank account. So, the kind of partners who wish to hold something back from their spouse in a marriage — emotionally, practically and financially — and to look out for No. 1 instead are more likely to end up unhappy and divorced. If that is your aim in marrying, go ahead and get a prenup. But if you wish to experience the best that marriage has to offer, find a partner who is willing to give everything to you, and do the same for them. Your odds of finding wedded bliss will be higher than your peers with prenups. Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on .

5 Prenuptial Pitfalls to Consider — Having One May be Bad for Your Marriage | DivorceNet

For what it’s worth, now that you have some research data: in the course of my cursory research I noticed a distinct bias in the articles that claim that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements do not encourage divorce/discourage marriage. I believe that any intellectually honest person would conclude that for the vast majority of young, unmarried people contemplating marriage for the first time and who aren’t celebrities, or rich or in some other exceptional category contemplating marriage, a prenuptial agreement raises red flags and tends to raise doubts as to the other party’s commitment to marriage.

Pro-prenuptial agreement articles gloss over the red flags. They claim prenuptial agreements “”clear the air, “help break the ice about discussing finances”, and “reduce acrimonious litigation in the event of divorce” rather transparently strain credulity to make those arguments stick.

(48) Eric Johnson’s answer to Are couples with prenups more likely to divorce? – Quora

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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The Difference Between IRAs

In divorce actions, be sure to distinguish between the different tax treatment of Roth and traditional IRAs. stated it clearly and concisely: “The traditional IRA allows you to contribute a portion of pre-tax dollars. That reduces your taxable income for the year while setting aside the money for retirement. The taxes will be due as you withdraw the money. The Roth IRA allows you to contribute post-tax dollars. There are no immediate tax savings, but once you retire, the amount you paid in and the money it earns are tax-free.”

This means that a dollar in a traditional IRA is not worth the same as a dollar in a Roth IRA. Bear the tax consequences of funds in traditional IRAs and in Roth IRAs when you divide marital assets.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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Divorce Is Often a “Cure” Worse Than the Disease

In response to this question, “Have you ever thought someone was making a mistake by getting a divorce?,” I stated (and I summarize here) some people need to divorce. It’s good that the option for divorce exists for their protection, but those who think divorce is the solution to their problem(s) are sadly mistaken. For these people divorce does not solve any problem and just creates a host of new problems.

Recently, someone left a comment on my answer stating that taking the position that most dating and marriage partnerships should stay together consigns both spouses to misery for no reason. Instead, she argued, we need to change divorce culture so that divorce isn’t seen as a failure automatically leading to bitter feuding. It can be, she concluded, a great source of growth for both people, if we just treat it as the next chapter of our lives.

I’ve never claimed that most dating and marriage partnerships should stay together. Some relationships (dating and marriage alike) are so dangerous and/or toxic that they need to end and end without delay. But comparing dating to marriage is a false equivalence.

Besides, for most people, the purpose of dating is finding someone you want as a spouse and who wants you as a spouse, so that you can form a family together.

Ending a dating relationship can be at least disappointing at worst and painful (even extremely painful), but the level of commitment in a dating relationship is nowhere near (or at least should be nowhere near) the level of commitment in a marriage (especially once children are born and become a part of the family).

People who marry should do so (and most do so) with the intent that marriage and family are not only a life-long commitment, but the most important commitment of their lives. When a spouse betrays that commitment, the consequences are much graver than when two people stop dating.

Divorce also involves having to divide a household and custody of children. At least one spouse loses his/her home. Assets and personal property get divided. Plans for “growing old together” in retirement are usually blown to smithereens, and both spouses have to re-adjust, usually by having to work many years longer than they originally planned to make up for the financial hit divorce causes. Spouses who were financially dependent on their spouses, now find themselves having to enter the workforce after years-long absences from the workforce making a meager income to get by. Kids are devastated by their parents’ divorce, and so the parents find themselves having to deal with that crisis on top of their own individual personal crises their going through at the same time.

The family is the necessary, indispensable foundation of a peaceful, prosperous society. We don’t make people happier by discouraging marriage or making divorce too easy to get.

Those whose marriages aren’t plagued by violence or mental or emotional cruelty, but who believe divorce is the solution to their problem(s) are sadly mistaken. For these people divorce does not solve any problem and just creates a host of new problems.

Most people who divorce not only didn’t need to, it was the worst thing they could have done to themselves and their family. If they would work on bettering themselves (both of them trying to be the kind of spouse they want and need) and then turn their attention to bettering the marriage, most marriages could be happy and fulfilling ones. Not perfect ones (there is no such thing), but happy, worthwhile marriages. This takes effort and sacrifice, and patience and trial and error, but the results are still better than a needless divorce.

The idea that we can make divorce easier on people by acting as though “it’s not a failure” on some many levels and to such a great degree cannot change the reality of the situation. To suggest that we “change divorce culture” to be seen as “a great source of growth” for the divorcing spouses would not only grossly cheapen marriage, it would be perpetrating a cruel, destructive fraud on both individuals and society at large.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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From Utah Business Magazine: Utah Has Highest Percentage of Marriages in Past 10 Years

From Utah Business Magazine: Utah has highest percentage of marriages in past 10 years

Key findings (among many other interesting things):

  • Utah, Idaho and Wyoming have the highest percentages of marriages.
  • West Virginia, Arkansas and Maine have the highest percentages of divorces.
  • More than 33% of people — or one in three — have never married.
  • Men who earn over $100,000 a year are the most likely to be married.
  • Women who earn $75,000 to $100,000 a year have the highest divorce rate.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What are your thoughts on a second marriage?

My answer comes from the perspective of a divorce lawyer who’s been in practice for 26 years. Note that I believe in marriage. Although I am a divorce lawyer myself, I am not divorced, and God willing, I never will be. I would like nothing better than for everyone to be so happily married that I need to find another line of work. I support and advocate for marriage. And under the right circumstances, I believe in remarriage. While there are plenty of fun, satisfying, and fulfilling things one can and should do as an unmarried person, my life would be comparatively empty without my wife, my children, and the incomparable joys of being a husband and father. For all the people who tell you how glad they are to be unmarried and childless, few really mean it.  

If you found your first marriage to be difficult, the odds are that a second marriage will be harder than your first. This is not always the case, but it usually is. This is not to say that if your first marriage failed you should not want or try to remarry to seek and enjoy the blessings of marriage for yourself and to be a blessing to your spouse. If, however, you caused your first divorce or even struggled in your first marriage because of your own demons, you’ve likely got some serious character and personality flaws to correct before you can remarry successfully. Resolving your personal issues and correcting course not insurmountable, but it is unavoidable, if you want a second marriage to work. But take heart: it can be done, it’s worth doing.  

I was once asked what I believe the three main causes of divorce are. I answered that question with this: While there are many reasons one may need or feel the need to divorce, the “top 3” reasons are, in my experience: 1. Broken trust (whether that is caused by infidelity or hiding a substance abuse problem or failing to “pull one’s own weight” in the marriage relationship, etc.); 2. Placing self-interest ahead of fostering the marriage partnership (which usually takes the form of expecting your spouse to be perfect and to be solely or primarily responsible for your happiness); and 3. Immaturity and/or some kind of mental health disorder.  

Thus, while nobody can ensure a marriage never ends in divorce it is crucial to your marriage (whether it’s your first or second) that you and your spouse be and want to be trustworthy, be devoted, be responsible, be sober, and that you care and want to for your individual and your spouse’s mental and physical health. If you or your prospective spouse feel that’s asking too much, don’t marry for the second (or even for the first) time.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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What are some ways to make the divorce rate drop?

First, some marriages need to end in divorce. That is why divorce exists. But divorce is not always the answer when one or both spouses is/are miserable. Far too many divorces are not only unnecessary, but take things from bad to worse. For those marriages that need not end in divorce, teach and exemplify: 

  • belief in God; 
  • trust—humbly—in God; 
  • that God’s plan for His children includes marriage and family (so He will help you when you and your spouse turn to Him for guidance and strength to overcome); 
  • love for and service to God;
    • Loving and serving God leads us to loving and serving others (especially your spouse and children). Loving and serving others leads us to love and to serve God. You cannot sustainably have one without the other; 
    • Go to church together and with your children. Associate with other families and learn from and support each other. It’s soothing and encouraging to see you’re not alone in the struggles couples and families face. It’s good to have others in your community to whom you can turn for support in good times and bad. 
  • mercy and forgiveness for human faults and frailties; 
    • Don’t demand perfection from your spouse or yourself—that’s impossible—but strive to be your best. Don’t exploit your spouse. 
    • This does not mean that wrongs go unpunished and unrestituted, but it does mean that “the punishment fit the crime,” as the saying goes; 
    • This does not mean that punishment be “curative”; See C.S. Lewis’s “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment 
  • specifically in marriage and family: 
    • Marriage and family is a major purpose of our lives—it’s part of God’s plan for each of us; 
    • Marry because you want “us” to be happy, supported, and fulfilled together. If you marry merely for “what’s in it for me,” you’re not ready or worthy to marry; 
      • Being equals in marriage does not mean that you and your spouse are the same in every respect. Accept it. Adapt to it. Celebrate it. Don’t forget it. 
    • Be honest in your dealings with your spouse and worthy of trust. 
    • Accept that certain aspects of a good married life and of single life are incompatible, so those aspects of single life must be left behind and replaced to serve your role as a spouse and parent; 
    • Accept the bitter aspects of married and family life with the sweet; 
      • “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed.” — Gordon B. Hinckley 
    • Learn to make the compromises in your habits and lifestyle that marriage requires. 
      • Don’t die on the hill of whose responsibility it is to take out the trash, whether “breakfast for dinner” is untenable, etc. Go to movies and restaurants you don’t like sometimes, if going is something your spouse enjoys (he/she needs to make the same accommodations for you too). 
      • It will seem as though you are “making sacrifices” when in reality you are continuing to grow and mature as a person. You are developing dormant talents and new skills that a successful marriage needs to thrive. 

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Whose responsibility is it to reduce or put an end to the divorce rate in this modern day?

Few rational, intelligent, thinking people would argue that a divorce rate hovering around 50% is not too high.

Society suffers from a high divorce rate and the broken families that result.

Children suffer from a high divorce rate. Higher rates of mental illness, self-harm, reckless behavior, juvenile delinquency and crime, struggles with substance abuse and an inability to form intimate relationships themselves as adults.

Spouses suffer from a high divorce rate. They suffer higher rates of depression and other mental and emotional pathologies, and divorce is financially devastating to most.

While nobody would deny that some marriages that constitute a danger to one’s safety need to end, many people who divorce find themselves far more miserable than they were when they door divorced, and realize that the solution wasn’t ending the marriage, but working to repair and improve it. Given that everyone has a stake in strong nuclear families, it is everyone’s to everyone’s benefit and it is everyone’s responsibility to support strong healthy families.

Society (from local communities to the municipal, state, and federal governments) needs to support strong healthy nuclear families for the sake of the strength survival of society. That doesn’t mean that a government must impose numerous rules and regulations in ostensible support of families, subsidize families financially, or treat family members better than other members of society, but it does mean that government needs to ensure its policies, rules, and regulations do not discourage or destroying strong, stable, healthy families. An ordered and prosperous society depends upon the smallest unit of society, i.e., the family as its foundation.

When families are strong, stable and healthy, that means that each member of the family is as strong, stable, and healthy as he or she would likely ever be. Such families reduce crime rates, foster prosperity, and are less of a drain on welfare benefits and other governmental resources. It is popular in modern Western societies now for many people to believe it is not only acceptable, but even admirable, not to marry and have children with one’s spouse. Nothing could be further from the truth. People need people. So the answer to your question is clear: it is to everyone’s benefit–from the individual all the way up to society at large–to support strong, stable, and healthy families, and it is thus everyone’s responsibility to ensure divorce occurs only as necessary.

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Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation?

Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation? I truly feel in my circumstance its best for me/us. Is it because they wont make as much money? We have already started the divorce process. Can it be switched? 

I can’t speak for all divorce attorneys, and I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois (I practice divorce and family law in Utah), but I can tell you why I personally don’t like going the temporary separation route. 

Too many people divorce needlessly. Too many people divorce only to discover that their spouses and marriages weren’t their problem and/or that divorce wasn’t the solution. I support desires and efforts to save marriage. While legal separation may sound to some like a good way to “get some space” to contemplate whether one should stay married or should divorce, I’ve found that: 

legal separation tends to damage a marriage far more than fostering its survival; and  

by the time one wants a legal separation, he or she really wants a divorce and is only postponing divorce out of fear or laziness or for the sake of appeasing the other spouse or “letter him/her down easy”.  

While I am sure there are people out there whose legal separation proved that “absence makes the hear grow fonder” and helped them “wake up” and realize that their marriage is worth saving, I know no such people. 

If I recall correctly, I’ve seen one legal separation end with the couple later reconciling. In every other legal separation situation, the couple has eventually divorced. So you can see where this is going: why go to the additional trouble, expense, and emotional ordeal of obtaining a legal separation order if you’re going to end up divorcing anyway and having to go through more of the same kind of effort, wait, expense, and pain again? 

I understand the desire to give the marriage every last reasonable opportunity to survive. I understand the desire to take every reasonable effort to save it. But at the same time, I don’t see the point in pouring time, effort, care, and money into what is for most a hopeless cause. **That stated,** I would much rather “waste” time, effort, care, and money on taking every reasonable effort to save my marriage if it meant having the peace of mind that I gave saving my marriage everything I could in an effort to save it before deciding that it was not worth saving or that I alone could not save it and concluding that divorce was the only remaining option. 

Are there divorce lawyers who discourage legal separation because they make (or believe they make) less money working on a legal separation instead of a divorce? I’m sure there are. But not all of us are out to take the client for all he or she is worth (you’d be wise to ensure you don’t hire a greedy lawyer, but there are some among us who are decent, caring, trustworthy professionals worth seeking out). In my experience, if one wants to do all he or she can to save his or her marriage, then working to improve yourself as a spouse, making changes in your family environment, and giving your best efforts to some good marriage counseling are certainly worthwhile. Legal separation rarely, if ever, helps improve a marriage. It tends to weaken and destroy a marriage.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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Why do people not complain about people who shouldn’t marry?

Why do people complain about the high divorce rate, but don’t complain about people who shouldn’t marry? 

There will never be an effective, morally acceptable way to prevent the following kinds of people from marrying (and thus reducing the divorce rate): 

  • stupid people; 
  • people suffering from mental, emotional, and/or personality disorders and disabilities who can’t or won’t treat their conditions successfully;
  • hopelessly romantic and/or naive people; and
  • shysters 

But when people bemoan the high divorce rate, they aren’t referring to divorces that can’t be prevented, they are talking about the divorces that can and should be prevented, divorces that aren’t necessary or inevitable.  

Far too many people who would and should benefit from saving their marriage (and who are more than capable of doing so) give up on it far too easily. They wind up regretting the divorce (as well they should). That’s a shame. That’s worth worrying and complaining about.   

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Why is it so easy to get married, and so hard to get divorced?

Why is it so easy to get married, and so hard to get divorced? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? 

This is a perceptive question. 

It would not not be that hard to get divorced if you were to give up everything in the divorce. If you told your spouse, “I want a divorce so bad I’ll make this as easy for, and as advantageous to, you as possible by waiving any and all rights to the marital assets, spousal support, the kids, everything,” you could get divorced relatively quickly and without having to incur any attorney’s fees. Heck, your spouse might gleefully pay an attorney to draw the “my spouse is giving away the farm” divorce action and settlement agreement. Of course, while getting the divorce that way would be fast, easy, and cheap, you’d pay a dear personal price—in both the short and the long run—in almost every other aspect.  

When you think about it, there are many endeavors that are easy to enter but prove to be very difficult to finish or exit (or at least to finish or exit comfortably): 

  • college (easy to enroll, get loans), hard to finish, hard to pay off student loans, especially if you drop out and still have to pay the loans off 
  • business (easier to get into than to stay in, and brutal to experience a business failure) 

And marriage is another. The longer one is married, the harder a divorce usually is due to so much having been invested in a marriage of long duration. It’s easier for two single, childless people to marry than for two married people to divorce who acquired property/assets and incurred debt and who may have begotten minor children (to say nothing of the disruption divorce inflicts on the physical and emotional reliance upon each other that spouses develop over time). With this in mind, it’s hard to conceive a way by which we could reasonably and responsibly make easier than marrying the dividing the property/assets, apportioning responsibility for marital debts and obligations, and determining the custody of minor children in divorce.  

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Is child marriage legal in the United States?

Of a sort, and depending upon the particular state, yes.  

In some places children (minor children, those who are by law deemed incapable of consenting to marry) can marry with their parents’ permission, under certain conditions.  

For example, in Utah (where I practice divorce and family law), the Utah Code provides: 

30-1-9. Marriage by minors — Consent of parent or guardian — Juvenile court authorization. 

30-1-9.1. Parental consent to prohibited marriage of minor — Penalty. 

It used to be that minor girls as young as 14 could marry in many U.S. states (including Utah), with parental permission. That is no longer true in Utah; the minimum age is now 16. 

According to this webpage, Marriage Age by State 2022, the state with the lowest minimum marriage age with parental consent in the U.S.A. is Massachusetts, which allows a child of 12 years of age to marry. New Hampshire comes in second at 13 years of age, and Hawaii and Missouri are tied at 15 years of age. Every other state sets the minimum at 16 years of age. 

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Is it easier to get a divorce if you and your spouse have nothing shared?

Is it easier to get a divorce if you and your spouse have no debts, no shared property, and no children?

Typically, generally, usually, yes. In the overwhelming majority of cases. 

You identified three of the top four reasons, in my opinion, that divorces are acrimonious and bitterly fought over protracted and ruinously expensive periods of time (the fourth big reason is alimony). The fewer the reasons to fight, the faster, less expensively, less physically and emotionally burdensome, and easier the divorce process is. 

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Would the divorce rate drop if the parties had to see a psychologist first?

What do you think would be the rate of divorce in marriages if psychologists were to be consulted in court by couples before proceeding to see the lawyer for divorce?

Your intentions are good, your proposal won’t work. 

Short answer: forcing people to consult a psychologist as a prerequisite to obtaining a divorce would A) likely cause no appreciable reduction in the divorce rate and B) would surely not justify the costs associated with it. 

You appear to base your idea on several false assumptions: 

  • First, that professionals are infallible. They are not. That includes psychologists. Merely consulting a psychologist does not mean you will get competent care or advice from any and all psychologists. And the purpose of psychologists isn’t to talk people in or out of anything anyway, so forcing people to speak with a psychologist with the goal of reducing divorce likely would present some ethical conflicts that would cause many psychologists to balk. 
  • Second, that nary a professional (including psychologists) is motivated by self-interest. Plenty are. Some psychologists know that if they advocate for more psychologist involvement in the court systems, then that means more work for psychologists through the court systems. And so they do and say what they need to do and say to keep the work flowing, regardless of whether they feel that what they do and say is what is needed or warranted. 
  • Third, that most divorces are due to mental illness or other mental or emotional pathologies or disorders. While many divorces can be traced to mental and/or emotional problems in one or both spouses, not every divorce can be. Thus, requiring everyone who files for divorce to consult a psychologist would be a waste of time, money, and resources. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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How can I better understand the importance of marriage?

As a child with divorced parents, I find it hard to answer questions such as, “What is the importance of marriage?” How can I better understand the importance of marriage?

Being a divorced parent does make it harder to make a strong case for marriage. You are afraid to look hypocritical and not credible. Fortunately, you are not alone in your predicament. 

  • Ex-con parents have the same problem when advising their children to obey the law. That doesn’t make the advice wrong.
  • Fat, out of shape parents have the same problem when advising their children to exercise and stay fit. That doesn’t make the advice wrong.
  • High school dropout parents have the same problem when advising their children to get a good education. That doesn’t make the advice wrong. 

 Although telling children to “do as I say, not as I do,” is a hard sell, there is an obvious silver lining to encouraging children to differently than you did: “Kid, you don’t need to end up like me. Learn from my example not to do as I did.” That’s authentic. That has real value. Vicarious learning is learning from the experience of others. Everyone can benefit from vicarious learning, whether it’s learning how to succeed by repeating what successful people do (and don’t do) or how to succeed by avoiding the mistakes and wrong decisions of those who failed. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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True or false: Better to divorce than have a miserable life.

This blog post is in response to this question: 

I don’t think it’s bad to get a divorce. I think it’s more unhealthy to have miserable lives.

— Ginger Wynn.

What are your thoughts on this statement? 

This statement tries to express a valid point, but it does so in a logically confused way. 

The statement “I don’t think it’s bad to get a divorce. I think it’s more unhealthy to have miserable lives” falsely presumes that divorce will cure or prevent what makes a dysfunctional (or worse) marriage dysfunctional.  

Sometimes a marriage is so toxic and harmful as to require termination. In such cases divorce is not only justified, but necessary.  

Sometimes the trouble one or both spouses is suffering in a marriage can be remedied by divorce.  

Sometimes the trouble a marriage is causing one or both spouses can be remedied by divorce.  

But not always.  

Sometimes the solution is “mend it, don’t end it”; more often than you’d think the cure for dysfunction and discord in a marriage is staying married and working on improving the marriage, not destroying it.  

Far too often I see people divorce in the false belief that their spouses/their marriages are making them miserable only to learn, after the damage is done, that their spouses/their marriages are not the cause(s) of their troubles. They realize that divorcing only compounds their suffering. They consequently become even more miserable.  

So here is what I submit is a more accurate statement: It is not bad to get a divorce when you truly have no better alternative.  

Don’t divorce unless divorce you need to. Know that “mend it, don’t end it” is not the answer before you seek a divorce.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Why do people get married only to divorce a few years later?

Why do people get married only to divorce a few years later? Doesn’t really sound like love to me. 

With the exception of those divorces that take place shortly after a marriage due to abuse, mental illness, fraud, and those kinds of things OR a divorce for which there are common law or statutory grounds (adultery, impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual drunkenness of the respondent, conviction of the respondent for a felony, irreconcilable differences of the marriage, incurable insanity), a divorce after a just a few years of marriage between two otherwise normal people is usually due (in no particular order) to: 

  • realizing the marriage was a mistake, that it’s a genuinely good idea and mutually beneficial to both spouses to end the marriage and a bad idea to spend any more time or effort trying to salvage it; or 
  • selfishness and/or fear or shame; something that renders one to feel unworthy or unwilling to commit to the success of the marriage and family 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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