Could legislation reduce the divorce rate in Missouri? – Part 2

As we discussed in our post earlier in the week, the legislation expected to be introduced in Missouri by the Speaker of the House, Timothy Jones would institute a “responsible spouse” policy that in essence would allow the party who does not want the divorce to be awarded 70 percent of the community or marital property. Not only that, but if the couple has children, the mother would receive custody of the children for the first seven years following the divorce.

It can only be presumed the husband is the one seeking the divorce in this scenario. After the first seven years, the father would then receive custody of the children for the next seven years or until the children reach the age of 18. But what if the wife is the one to request a divorce – is the father awarded custody of the children for the first seven years? Does he also receive 70 percent of the marital property under this scenario?

Under this legislation, if a woman is the victim of domestic violence and requests the divorce, the legislation would allow for the mother to be the “responsible party” and be awarded 70 percent of the community property in the divorce. The rationale for this legislation is that it would conceivably make a spouse think twice before having an affair, or perhaps commit spousal abuse, at least according to the consultant.

This legislation appears to make a number of presumptions, including that divorce is often the first option sought by estranged couples. Divorce is a much more complicated process than this consultant seems to consider. When a couple decides to split it is usually following a lengthy period of serious contemplation and emotional turmoil.

When children are involved child custody issues are much more complex that simply presuming one parent should receive custody for seven years than custody switches to the other parent, does this concept really consider what is in the best interest of the children? Studies have shown that the active participation of both parents in the raising of their children is more beneficial to a child than the alternative.

What do you think, should Missouri pass such legislation and would it be good for our state?

Source: The Town Talk, “Consultant to La. lawmakers: Make it harder for couples to divorce,” Mike Hasten, Feb. 5, 2013

Our St. Louis, Missouri, law firm provides comprehensive family law services, including divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.

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