Fighting divorce could save government billions: divorce-reform advocates
August 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The government could save literally billions simply by taking modest steps to fight rampant divorce, according to prominent divorce-reform advocates.
Divorce “places real burdens on children, adults, and the state,” points out W. Bradford Wilcox, the University of Virginia National Marriage Project director.
“On the latter point, libertarians and conservatives need to realize that when marriage breaks down, court costs go up, children are more likely to fail in school and later in the marketplace, more police are needed to handle delinquent boys and young men, etc. So the breakdown of marriage causes the size and scope of state authority to expand.”
The costs of divorce, and efforts to reform divorce law, were the subject of a recent Washington Times article, where it was reported that on average a divorce costs a couple $2,500, up front. But that doesn’t take into account the costs of government support for single-parent families, which the Times reports can cost anywhere from $20-30,000/year. Multiply that figure by the number of divorced and single-parent families, and you’re looking at figures well into the many billions of dollars.
Michael McManus, the Co-Chair of Marriage Savers, agrees with Wilcox on the costs of divorce, both financial and social, pointing to a quote from the 2008 Father’s Day speech of then-candidate Obama, that children “who grow up without a father are 5 times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, 9 times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”
“If we could cut America’s divorce rate in half, it would spare 500,000 children a year from experiencing a parental divorce,” says McManus.
McManus quotes Michael Reagan, whose parents Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman divorced, who wrote: “Divorce is where two adults take everything that matters to a child – the child’s home, family, security and sense of being loved and protected – and they smash it all up, leave it in ruins on the floor, then walk out and leave the child to clean up the mess.”
“America has had one divorce for every two marriages for 36 years,” McManus observes. “Our divorce rate is triple that of Britain or France. After 5 years, 23% of Americans have divorced versus only 8% in Britain or France, and 10% in Canada.”
Wilcox points out that while not all kids whose parents divorce will suffer, “their odds of suffering increase markedly.”
“Children long to know and be known by their two parents, to love and be loved by their two parents, and to see their two parents love one another,” he says. “Divorce leaves many if not all of these longings unrealized.”
Divorce reform has been tried in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona, which have a “covenant-marriage” law. “Covenant couples” participate in premarital education and marriage counseling, according to the Times.
New Mexico State Senator Mark Boitano has also introduced a Parental Divorce Reduction Act in this year’s session, an initiative that divorce-reform advocates are enthusiastic about, and that they hope is only the beginning of a larger movement. The law would enforce a “reflection” period for couples wishing to divorce, as well as education for the couples aimed at reducing divorce. Senator Boitano did not respond to an interview request by LifeSiteNews by press time.