Is there a nationwide movement afoot to make getting a divorce more difficult? A provocative new article in the Washington Post describes how a number of state legislatures are now pushing for waiting periods, mandating marriage classes, or even eliminating no-fault divorce entirely.
As the Post reports:
In recent years, lawmakers in more than a dozen states have introduced bills imposing longer waiting periods before a divorce is granted, mandating counseling courses or limiting the reasons a couple can formally split. States such as Arizona, Louisiana and Utah have already passed such laws, while others such as Oklahoma and Alabama are moving to do so.
What’s going on? It seems to be a matter of politicians trying to influence family values. The thinking appears to be that if divorces are more difficult to obtain, fewer marriages will end. And having more married couples is not just desirable in its own right but is a social good, they say.
It’s not just a local movement. Nationally-know political players, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry, have signed a pledge from Family Leader, a Christian-right group, denouncing “quickie divorce” and urging couples to endure a “cooling off period.
Rick Santorum justifies his thinking in statements calling marriage essentially one of two great “cures” for poverty.
Are these politicians in the right? We value opinions from both sides of the aisle, but do point out that the vast majority of marriages end for some very serious reasons, including domestic violence and assault, emotional and mental cruelty, and adultery. Should these parties be forced to wait to obtain a divorce? Just like the last few years have seen intense political conversations about the meaning of marriage, it sounds like a new national conversation needs to take place, this time about divorce.