In the 1970’s, most states in the nation adopted a “no fault” divorce policy. Governments reasoned that the policy would temper the nastiness, finger-pointing and emotional havoc associated with full-blown divorce trials. Additionally, it was thought to be better to give individuals more freedom to decide whether their marriage was over by choosing between different types of divorce. However, the no fault divorce policy is currently facing a backlash. Many hold the belief that the policy has directly contributed to the alarming increase of divorce in this country.
Some state representatives believe the solution is to enact longer waiting periods before a divorce becomes final. Currently in Colorado, the waiting period is 90 days after filing the initial petition for dissolution. Recently, a bill was introduced in the Colorado legislature that would require couples with children under 16 to wait one year before they could divorce. Other states have considered similar bills. For example, Michigan has considered much a far stronger measure to require couples to wait four years!
Some states have considered are pre-marital education classes with incentives (e.g. the cost of a marriage license would be reduced with voluntarily attendance), intensive mandatory counseling after a couple files for divorce, requiring couples with children to make and submit parenting plans, no fault divorce only with mutual consent, and making the spouse who wants the divorce prove that it is in the best interest of the children or give up rights to marital assets. Most of the divorce reform bills have failed, but the no fault debate continues to intensify. These and similar measures continue to gain support.
In the end, it remains unclear to what extent no fault divorce reform will have on the divorce rate. Certainly the increase in divorce is much more complex than the mere removal of a legal impediment. Sadly, eradicating no fault divorce could increase legal costs and lengthen the divorce process. There is also the fear that more people will be trapped in marriages involving domestic violence. Clearly, this debate is far from over.