Mutual Consent Divorce Reform //Divorce Among Believers - 9/04
Smart Marriages ®
Wed Sep 15 09:47:01 EDT 2004
subject: Mutual Consent Divorce Reform //Divorce Among Believers - 9/04
- CONSENT DIVORCE REFORM
- BELIEVERS OR NOT, DIVORCE RATES VIRTUALLY THE SAME
- CONSENT DIVORCE REFORM
McManus - Ethics & Religion Sept. 14, 2004 Column #1,203 Advance for
Sept.18, 2004 Mutual Consent Divorce Reform by Michael J. McManus
Last weekend every American thought deeply about the 3,000 Americans who
lost their lives on 9/ll/01. The terrorism destroyed 3,000 families.
Yet since that date, there have been 3 million divorces that shattered the
lives of 3 million children. That calamity was 1,000 times worse yet no one
thinks about it, except family members in 3 million demolished
The rest of us must care, and take steps to spare future families.
The impact is greatest on the innocent, the children. Children of divorce
are twice as likely to drop out of school as those from intact homes, three
times as apt to have a baby out of wedlock, five-fold more likely to be in
poverty and 12 times more apt to be incarcerated.
"Contrary to what we have long thought, the major impact of divorce does not
occur during childhood or adolescence. Rather, it rises in adulthood as
serious romantic relationships move center stage. When it comes time to
choose a life mate and build a new family, the effects of divorce
crescendo," wrote Judith Wallerstein after following 100 children of divorce
for 25 years after parental divorce, in her landmark book, "The Unexpected
Legacy of Divorce."
Only 60 of the 100, now aged 27-43, had ever married vs. 84 percent of those
from intact families. And 25 of the 60 had already divorced, leaving only a
third who built lasting marriages.
What is achingly needed is to reform No-Fault Divorce. It could save
hundreds of thousands of marriages now terminated too hastily.
Ironically, No-Fault was once seen as a reform.
"In New York and New England for most of the 20th Century, adultery was the
only grounds for divorce. People who wanted divorce did negotiate the terms
of their divorce and agree by mutual consent. But they'd have to fake
pictures of adultery and lie in court," says John Crouch of Americans for
No-Fault removed lies by allowing a spouse to exit unilaterally without
proving the other guilty of a major fault, such as adultery, abandonment or
1. A 1998 study reports No-Fault Laws caused a 17 percent increase in
2. Divorced women and their children suffered economically. Prior to
No-Fault, wives were awarded 60 percent or more of the property. If a man
wanted a divorce, he's have to bargain with his wife, making economic
concessions to obtain her consent. Assets are now divided equally, and
since women often dropped out of the work force to raise children, they are
less able to support themselves.
3. "The system rewards those who lie, cheat and steal and use kids as a
weapon to alienate the other person," says Crouch. "No fault denies you the
right to be married in the sense that people have understood marriage for
centuries. It makes it an arrangement that is for the time being. Marriage
has historically been a contract in which people "forsake all others" giving
each a reason to invest their energies to make the marriage work for both of
you and the children. Any complicated high investment human endeavor, such
as building a skyscraper, requires an enforceable contract. If you allow one
person to abrogate the contract, you can't rely on it."
4. The Constitution's guarantee of "due process" is lost. "ALL legal rights
in a divorce are extended to the divorcer, because the one who wants to save
the marriage loses EVERY TIME," complains Billy Miller of Louisiana.
That may sound un-American, but it is very American. No other nation allows
unilateral divorce, which is why the United States has the world's highest
What's needed is "Mutual Consent Divorce" to replace No-Fault. What was
entered into by two people should not be exited unless both parties agree.
Of course, divorce could be granted if one person was guilty of adultery,
physical abuse, etc. However, two-thirds of divorces do not even involve
One person is unhappy and wants out. If that person had to negotiate with a
spouse to exit the marriage, there would be fewer divorces and fewer wounded
children. The spouse who wants to save the marriage would have leverage.
And divorces would be fairer to all parties.
Mutual Consent Divorce is opposed by divorce attorneys who dominate
Judiciary Committees in Legislatures. However, this is a political season.
State legislators want your vote. Ask if they support Mutual Consent
A Family Policy Council affiliated with Focus on the Family in one major
state has persuaded the governor and legislative leaders to back Mutual
Yet not one religious denomination has called for this reform. Why?
-BELIEVERS OR NOT, DIVORCE RATES VIRTUALLY THE SAME
Researcher Also Finds Majority of Christians Disagree with Related Bible
Barna predicts "there is no end in sight regarding divorce".
By Fred Jackson and Jody Brown
September 9, 2004
(AgapePress) - A new poll is confirming an apparent trend in Christianity to
adopt the values of the world. Christian researcher George Barna has
released the results of a new survey which show when it comes to divorce,
there is little difference between born-again believers and the unsaved.
The Barna poll found that 35 percent of married, born-again Christians have
been divorced at least once -- the same percentage as among married adults
who are not born-again Christians. And nearly one-fourth of born-again
Christians have been divorced at least twice.
Pollster George Barna suggests one reason the divorce rate is not higher
among non-Christians is that today many do not bother to marry their
partners in the first place, choosing instead to live together out of
wedlock, side-stepping marriage -- and divorce -- altogether.
And one reason the rate of divorce is not lower among Christians may be that
few people in the general population accept the notion that divorce is a
sin. According to the Barna poll, only 15 percent strongly agreed (and 16
percent "moderately agreed") with the following statement: "When a couple
gets divorced without one of them having committed adultery, they are
committing a sin."
Two-thirds of the 3,600 adults polled disagreed with that statement. More
than half (52 percent) of the born-again group did not agree that divorce
without adultery is sin, whereas three-fourths of the non-Christians felt
Among the groupings of those surveyed, 58 percent of Protestants and 69
percent of Catholics disagreed with Jesus' teaching that it is a sin to
divorce for any reason other than adultery.
Barna offers these observations. "You can understand why atheists and
agnostics might have a high rate of divorce, since they are less likely to
believe in concepts such as sin, absolute moral truth, and judgment," he
says. "Yet the survey found that the percentage of atheists and agnostics
who have been married and divorced is very similar to the numbers for the
The researcher says his findings do not paint a pretty picture for the
future. "Given the current growth in the number of atheists and agnostics,
and that the younger two generations [those born between 1946 and 1965, and
between 1965 and 1983] are predisposed to divorce, we do not anticipate a
reversal of the present pattern within the next decade."
Barna found that 46 percent of married individuals who were born in that
earlier generation have already undergone a marital split. Slightly more
than one-fourth of those among the younger group have already been divorced
The complete results of this Barna survey are available online at:
You'll note that:
?Born again Christians? were defined in these surveys as people who said
they have made ?a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still
important in their life today? and who also indicated they believe that when
they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and
had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents were not asked to
describe themselves as ?born again.? Being classified as ?born again? is not
dependent upon church or denominational affiliation OR INVOLVEMENT.
So, no, it did not determine how many times a month or year or week those
surveyed attended church.
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