At the NYT Room for Debate, Beverly Willett and Vicki Larson debate divorce:
Should a divorce be more difficult to obtain? Or is the process arduous enough already?
Today, obtaining a divorce couldn’t get much easier. America’s no-fault divorce laws allow spouses to unilaterally walk out on their families for any reason. And many do just that. Spouses who want to keep their families intact, however, have no alternatives. Thus, the outcome of every divorce filing is preordained: the family will split up. We all want to be happy. But our current me-centered approach to divorce isn’t working, and children bear the brunt.
Your [Parental Divorce Reduction] act ignores a fundamental shift in society — single motherhood. Some 40 percent of births today are to women who are unmarried but often cohabiting. Those couples, or fragile families, are poorer and less educated than married couples. Divorce rates have been falling for the past quarter century, especially among college-educated people. Many kids at risk of being stripped of “their rightful childhoods” are those born to unmarried mothers, who tend to form numerous cohabiting partnerships and have less money and resources, not children of divorce. These are the children who demand our help.
And much more from two women who have thought deeply about divorce. Take a look.