Controversy ignites over no-fault divorce legislation


Here in Nevada we often take no-fault divorce for granted as it has become a fixture of our family law system. No-fault divorce means that a spouse can file for divorce without citing a specific reason for a breakdown of the marriage and without approval from a judge that the facts support that reasoning. No-fault divorce is the norm in almost every state in the country at this point, but one state legislator from another part of the country is seeking to change that slightly by introducing a bill to remove no-fault divorce as an option.

The state legislator who introduced the measure says he is attempting to promote strong families by requiring a specific reason that couples are divorcing.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as that, since no-fault is often utilized to aid individuals who are victims of domestic violence or other types of abuse. Spousal abuse often occurs in the form of exerting control, whether that is financial, emotional, or physical control. Requiring cooperation for a divorce or evidence of specific wrongdoing can make it harder for abused spouses to fully end the relationship, since a controlling spouse who is still legally married will still have access to financial and personal information.

On an even more basic level, requiring that couples submit evidence to the court to convince a judge to allow them to end the relationship means that the government, not individuals, determines when a marriage is over.It is not clear how successful this legislative attempt will be since the bill has already caused significant controversy in its first few days of being known to the public.

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Source: Wichita Eagle, “Kansas bill would eliminate ‘no-fault’ divorces,” Bryan Lowry, Feb. 7, 2014.

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