Does no-fault divorce need to be changed?

No-fault divorce is the standard method of obtaining a divorce. In Missouri, you can proceed with either a fault or a no-fault divorce. No-fault is often criticized for a range of societal problems from lowering the economic status of women to the fall of Western Civilization. Part of the problem may be that people tend to have short memories and see incidents with no-fault occurring today as somehow being uniquely troubled.

In reality, there probably never was a “golden age,” when divorces were always better. They may have been different, and some aspects of “fault” divorce may have seemed better when viewed through the perspective of the current day, but others were certainly far worse.

For one, under a fault divorce system, one party had to allege and prove facts that demonstrated their partner’s failings. In some cases, the bad behavior may have been open and obvious, but what about less blatant cases? Spouses would need to testify and prove their partner’s adultery, cruelty, abuse, abandonment or whatever the particular fault may have been.

If there where children from the marriage, much of this testimony would be embarrassing and unpleasant for those children and for the “innocent” spouse. In cases involving a controlling or domineering spouse, the process could become very contentious, with the accused spouse making the process as adversarial as possible.

None of this was to anyone’s benefit. The fact that the divorce rate continues to decline seems to undercut the argument that no-fault encourages couples to divorce. In addition, the divorce rate does not seem to have much relation to the various restrictive laws legislatures put in place. One survey found that states’ with easy divorce filings had similar divorce rates to states with very restrictive filing laws.

Yes, divorce is messy and problematic. Some couples have a better experience than others. But some marriages are happier than others, however, state legislatures have yet to come up with a successful method to mandate only happy marriage occur in their state.

Related Posts