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Making divorce harder

I have no idea why anyone would want to do this, but here we are.

Conservative Republican Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, said he wants to strengthen families and reinforce the sanctity of marriage by eliminating no-fault divorces, which now allow couples to split amicably with neither legally alleging blame.

“I don’t know if we don’t take our vows as seriously as we used to, but I think getting rid of the no-fault divorce piece of this may make folks concentrate on this a little harder before they enter into that relationship, or stick it out to where they can restore that relationship and the tough times in marriage,” he said.

Krause, who has been married for 14 years, said he wants modern culture to better value the importance of family to ensure a healthy society, and said stable families will result in better outcomes for children.

Under a bill he plans to push in the 2017 legislative session, the state would strike “insupportability” as grounds for divorce. A couple who wants to dissolve their marriage peacefully will have to live separately for three years before filing for divorce. Those opposed to waiting would have to accuse their partners of cruelty or adultery, or allege their partner abandoned them after a year living apart. Other grounds include conviction of a felony or confinement in a mental hospital.

“That’s a terrible idea,” [Cindy Diggs, of Holmes Diggs Eames & Sadler, a Houston law firm that concentrates on divorce and family law,] said.

Doing away with no-fault divorces will enrich divorce lawyers because clients will pay more in fees to come up with reasons to legally justify splitting from their spouse, she said.

“He’s forcing the fight,” she said of Krause’s bill. “Even as a divorce lawyer, I don’t think that’s right. I think you should make divorce easier for those who want it because those who want it are still going to go and file and get it. It’s just going to cost them more and cause their families and their children more strife.”

[…]

Krause proposed the bill in the 2015 legislative session, supported by pastors and Concerned Women for America, a national conservative advocacy group that seeks to weave biblical principals into public policy, both of which argue children in single-parent households are more likely to struggle than their peers.

The bill won a narrow 4-3 bipartisan approval in a legislative committee but failed to reach the floor.

“We are not a church, we are a government,” said Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, during a hearing days before voting against the bill. “When people get married, they get married. They’re adults. … That is really getting in the middle and I’m not so sure it fixes things. I think, if anything, it makes things worse.”

Krause rejects the suggestion that forcing couples to wait out a divorce infringes on their personal freedom.

“They still have every right, whether they’re going to get into that union or not,” Krause said. “But once they do, I don’t think it’s bad for the state to say, ‘Hey, if you’re doing this and you’re entering into this union, let’s make sure you’re very serious about it, knowing the societal benefits that can happen when there’s a happy married couple and knowing the societal concern that we see as a consequence when there’s a proliferation of divorces.”

The bill in question from 2015 was HB454, which did get voted out of committee but never got a vote on the House floor. As the story notes, the divorce rate has been falling nationally and in Texas, so this strikes me as yet another solution in search of a problem. It’s also another mockery of the alleged ideal of “small government”, but that ship sailed a long time ago. I don’t think this bill will get any more traction this session, but you never know. If it does, I bet we see a big spike in the number of divorce filings between the day it passes and the day it goes into effect. I mean hey, if you were headed that direction anyway, may as well get there before the price goes up, right?

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One Comment

  1. Flypusher says:

    Economic stability would do a lot more for family stability than this butinsky’s nonsense legislation. Financial problems are a major driver of marital discord. How about bills that help the working poor if you feel that you must do something (despite the divorce rate going down)? I’d wager you’d preserve more marriages that way.