Though no one thinks high divorce rates are a good thing, there can be very real benefits to allowing some couples to end bad marriages. Legislators in Iowa are apparently concerned about the high divorce rate in that state and what some say are increasingly “promiscuous” young women and are taking action to bring the number down. Lawmakers are considering doing away with the option of a no-fault divorce in cases where there are children.
Iowa House File 338 would require that couples with children prove one of five conditions before a divorce could be approved by a judge: adultery, physical or sexual abuse, imprisonment, the absence of a spouse for more than a year or that the couple has lived apart for more than two years. Though the bill appears headed for trouble in the legislature, the main sponsor says he has no intention of giving up on it and will bring the measure back during the next session to ensure it is not forgotten about.
Many in the family law world have come out vehemently against the legislation. Experts have said not only is the measure an example of government meddling in family issues, but it is also a dangerous proposal that could put women and children in harm’s way.
Currently, all 50 states have no-fault divorce laws in place, including here in Ohio. These methods of seeking a divorce were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s and made it possible for one party to get a divorce without the burden of having to prove bad behavior occurred. Before the no-fault divorce was possible, people who wanted to end a marriage had to either reach an agreement with their spouse or throw them under the bus. Rather than strengthen marriages, the Iowa legislation seems destined to make divorce a much more combative and intense process.
In fact, a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University found that in states that passed no-fault divorce laws, domestic violence dropped between 25 and 50 percent in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There was also a 10 percent drop in a woman’s risk of being murdered by her spouse and the rate of female suicide fell by 20 percent.
The Iowa proposal would mean that women who want a divorce from an abusive spouse would have to prove the terrible violence in a court of law. For those women without the money to afford an experienced family law attorney, this would mean that they might have no escape from a violent home. The last thing an abused woman needs is another barrier preventing her from leaving a dangerous situation.
There’s also no good reason to suspect that no-fault divorce laws are to blame for high divorce rates seen around the country or in Iowa in particular. A study conducted in California showed that after the state passed its no-fault divorce law in 1970 the divorce rate jumped temporarily, but quickly fell back to its old level and eventually even declined.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of complicated divorce and have questions about your rights and options, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Stephan.
Source: “Iowa GOP Lawmakers Try To Curtail Divorce, Worry It Makes Young Women More 'Promiscuous',” by Will Wrigley, published at HuffingtonPost.com.
See Our Related Blog Posts:How to Establish Parental Rights for Unmarried Fathers in Ohio