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Will making divorce more difficult improve families?

Why marriages fail is one of those great unanswerable questions. We generally think of divorce in a pejorative sense, as being bad, but divorce serves an important purpose, that of separating two people who no longer wish to be together.

While a divorce can be unpleasant and have a damaging effect on children from the marriage, similarly, a bad marriage can also have a damaging effect on children, and in many cases, divorce may actually improve the situation for all the parties.

In Kansas, a state representative has introduced a bill that would eliminate "incompatibility" as grounds for divorce, apparently under the presumption, that a catchall category makes it too easy for people to obtain a divorce.

Here is the problem with this assumption. Speak with 1000 couples as to why they divorced, and you may get one of two responses. A general statement that is so broad as to be useless, like "She/he was a jerk," or an incredibly detailed, specific set of facts, which only applies to that particular couple.

The danger with the proposed law is that seven of the eight categories, such as an adultery conviction, child abuse, or domestic violence all require additional legal proceedings and evidence, which create additional barriers for a divorce for many people.

Note, none of this will improve broken marriages or strengthen families, but will simply increase the number of trips to the courthouse, the expense of a divorce and the divisiveness of the process, and generally make it more difficult to get a divorce.

Helping couples with their decision making process before they get married and have children could prove to be a better way to help families.

Source: LJworld.com, "Editorial: Divorce barriers," February 11, 1014

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