Friday, May 22, 2009

Should No-Fault Divorce Be Abolished?

As I understand the story (and I am open to correction on this, though I think the broad outlines are correct), Ronald Reagan led the way for the adoption of no-fault divorce when he was governor of California in the 60's-70's.

Prior to that time, divorce in every state had required a showing of some fault on the part of one or the other partners. This was because marriage was considered a contractual matter which required some sort of basis for dissolution of the contract.

But that a showing of fault was necessary led to couples who were simply determined not to live together anymore engaging in what was disparagingly called "collusive divorce," in which one party would admit to some outlandish infraction that they had, in fact, never committed, in an attempt to end the marriage. This had, in fact, happened to Reagan. His first wife had informed him that she was, ummmm, otherwise engaged, shall we say, and that she did not intend to continue the marriage. While he fought for his marriage for a time, he eventually relented and agreed to confess in a divorce court that he was guilty of "cruelty" to his wife. This was, in California, the most common ploy for "collusive divorce."

Rethinking later, Reagan decided that it was a horrible blot on his character to have people believing that he had ever been cruel to the woman that he so loved. He vowed to do something about it, and spearheaded no-fault divorce legislation, signing it into law in 1970.

He obviously never foresaw the moral wreckage that would follow.

In Reagan's day, some people did decide to stay married rather than perjure themselves in court. They worked on their marriage and generally things turned out well. Since no-fault has spread, however, there is now no longer any brake on divorces and more kids will grow up without two parents than grow up with two parents.

In North Carolina, divorce is no-fault, but the division of assets can be based on fault. I know of one case in which the couple divorced on a no-fault basis (the only choice in the state) , but the husband received all of the marital property except for his wife's IRA as a result of his wife's continued adultery.

I would suggest the following modification, which would both avoid the "collusive divorce" of the past and would also place a brake on the unrestrained divorce of the present: Any divorce in which both parties agree - let it be done on a no-fault basis. But any divorce in which one party does not agree for any reason whatsoever (i.e., a contested divorce) should be dissolved only on a fault basis and only at severe cost to the separating party - loss of kids, loss of assets, loss of everything.

Marriage is more important to society and to the people invovled in it than is the "freedom" of any one party. Marriage is more important to society than is the feminist ideology which opposes it and seeks to destroy it. Marriage is (and prior to feminism had always been treated as) a contract - and in no other area of life would we allow a person to simply walk away from a contract without any consequences merely because she "wasn't happy" with it.

The social cost of divorce has become too high. Too many men's and women's lives, finances, and psyches are being ruined by a too-easy divorce law. Too many children are growing up frustrated, neglected, angry, and lost without two parents. It is, imho, time to end this thing.

Do away with no-fault divorce. And while you are at it, let's do away with child support, the subornation of perjury by women's shelters, and the presumption of female fitness in child custody disputes. Feminism has befouled the waters of justice for too long and the evidence of its cancerous nature is plain for all to see. The legacy of irresponsibility and attendant moral chaos begotten by no-fault divorce will be felt in this country for generations to come.


  1. I fully agree. No-fault divorce effectively ruined marriage, long before "gay marriage" was even an issue. Yet, strangely, the churches will protest the latter, while saying nothing about the no-fault divorce.
    Also, as for Reagan, if his wife wanted out, it was fault on her part, and he could have gone to court and tried to prove it. He chose for chivalry and covering her sins instead.

  2. I'm 2 years late, but I still felt the need to comment.

    I hear a lot that married couples have become lazy about fixing their marriages. The reality is that they no longer *have to* fix their marriages. No fault divorce laws have removed barriers that once kept couples together, whether they wanted to or not. It's human nature to take the path of least resistance, and this applies to divorce, too.

    I have no problem with no fault divorce laws, but I do think the gender biased divorce and family court laws need to be amended, and in some cases, removed (alimony). Until these laws change, marriage will remain an extremely risky venture, mostly for men.

    I am 40 and will never get married unless the biased laws change. I know I am taking a huge risk at being single for life, but I feel it is worth the risk. Being single is better than being single and making costly alimony and child support payments.