Heymann & Fletcher

One state considers eliminating no-fault divorce

Some New Jersey residents may be aware that the vast majority of states allow couples to end their marriages without requiring one party to prove that the other has violated the marital contract. Known as a no-fault divorce, this is an approach that allows spouses to agree that their marriage is simply unsustainable instead of forcing them to take sides and debate who is to blame for the demise of the relationship. One state, however, is considering taking action to eliminate no-fault divorce, a proposed change that has led to a great deal of debate.

Those who propose placing greater obstacles in the path of divorce are coming from an admirable position. They often feel strongly that marriage and family are essential components of our society and should be protected. Many feel that if divorce was not so easy to attain, more couples would take the time to focus on their relationship, ultimately saving their marriage.

The problem with this approach, however, is that there is very little evidence to support the belief that marriages are bolstered by a more complicated path toward divorce. In fact, there is a strong argument that making it harder to obtain a divorce only makes things more difficult for families, including those that will have to transition into a co-parenting structure once the marriage comes to an end. Having a prolonged divorce could make it harder for parents to forge a new path as parenting partners, which can have bad outcomes for shared children.

Many people in New Jersey and across the nation feel that no-fault divorce is an important option for couples who are ready to move beyond a broken marriage. Changing that path is often viewed as a step back, not a move forward. As the matter continues to move through the legislative process, additional states could consider similar changes, which is something that many people will closely follow in the months ahead.

Source: mysanantonio.com, "Much fault in junking no-fault divorce", Maria Anglin, Jan. 7, 2017

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