Texas Legislator Seeks To Get Rid Of No-Fault Divorces and To Delay The Finalization Of Divorces

thumb_wedding_rings2465Matt Krause is a deeply religious man who feels that people too easily divorce. That is clearly understandable view and probably speaks well of his own marriage. However, Krause is also a Texas state representative and wants to make that decision more difficult for his neighbors. He has introduced bills that should more divorces more expensive and more time-consuming and thus more difficult for couples to secure. This is a point where libertarians and some conservatives part ways. As someone with strong libertarian tendencies, I recoil at the government enforcing moral codes on a couples in making it difficult for them to divorce after they have made that difficult decision within her marriage or families. He would specifically bar no-fault divorces to protect the sanctity of marriage.

The Fort Worth Republican would more than double the amount of time a couple must wait to finalize a divorce from 60 days to 180 days. There is no reason for such a delay other than to make things for difficult for such couples. However, it is the elimination of no-fault divorces that is most problematic. Currently, all 50 states offer no-fault divorce. Indeed, in 17 states and the District of Columbia, you can only file for divorce on no-fault grounds. Absent such an option, couples would have to accuse each other of being cruel or adulterous or being felons. That will make divorces nastier and only deepen the harm for these families. Studies have indicated that the rise of no-fault divorces has seen a corresponding decrease in suicides by wives as well as abuse allegations.

I am sympathetic with the notion that couples need to work out problems in the interests of their families. However I have seen many broken marriages and seen the parents adopt positive attitudes in their separation to protect their children. The option of a no-fault divorce makes such amicable divorces possible and I believe that it is far better for the children than arbitrarily lengthen the period for divorces and force parents to level charges against each other in order to be allowed to go their separate ways. That is a matter for them and their families. They may be religious or non-religious. They may share Krause’s moral or may not share those morals. It is their faith, their marriage, their lives. Not Krause’s.

Krause ran for office as someone who would bring his faith to his public office. He is the son of a Baptist pastor and his mother is a teacher of the Castle Hills First Baptist School (from where he graduated). Krause attended San Diego Christian College and is a graduate in the very first graduating class of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. He then opened a Texas office of Liberty Counsel. He is entitled to his views and clearly reflects the views of a majority of his constituents. However, he would rightfully object if other religions sought to impose their moral code on this family or try to make family decisions more difficult to reflect their own moral codes. I am all in favor of Krause campaigning to educate couples to resist the temptation to divorce and to try to resolve differences in the interests of their children. It is his use of public powers that is problematic for those of us who prefer to keep the government out of our homes and private affairs.

What do you think?

96 thoughts on “Texas Legislator Seeks To Get Rid Of No-Fault Divorces and To Delay The Finalization Of Divorces

  1. I agree that divorce is one of those gray areas in ethics where people should be allowed legitimate disagreement. I understand the desire to keep families together by making sure that divorces are not casual. But, with the no-fault overturn, I agree that divorces could become very acrimonious and so bad for the children and also the couple. So, I find this idea wrong on both the grounds of religious freedom and also utilitarian concerns about the parties involves.

      • Well, all divorces are difficult and arise from tension between the couple, but I think the point of the article was that removing the no-fault divorce requires all couples who want a divorce to find legitimate cause for divorce. A lengthy court proceeding for every divorce will create acrimony.

        • Well, all divorces are difficult and arise from tension between the couple,

          That’s rather like telling people in London during the blitz that the corpses and the rubble and the explosions ‘arose’ from ‘tensions’ between Britain and Germany.

  2. FWIW, a lot of family law was set into place back in Old Babylon. Here are a few blurbs from The Code of Hammurabi:

    [133] If a man is taken prisoner in war, and there is a sustenance in his house, but his wife leave house and court, and go to another house: because this wife did not keep her court, and went to another house, she shall be judicially condemned and thrown into the water.

    [134] If any one be captured in war and there is not sustenance in his house, if then his wife go to another house this woman shall be held blameless.

    [135] If a man be taken prisoner in war and there be no sustenance in his house and his wife go to another house and bear children; and if later her husband return and come to his home: then this wife shall return to her husband, but the children follow their father.

    [136] If any one leave his house, run away, and then his wife go to another house, if then he return, and wishes to take his wife back: because he fled from his home and ran away, the wife of this runaway shall not return to her husband.

    [137] If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart.

    [138] If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father’s house, and let her go.

    [139] If there was no purchase price he shall give her one mina of gold as a gift of release.

    [140] If he be a freed man he shall give her one-third of a mina of gold.

    [141] If a man’s wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges into debt, tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is judicially convicted: if her husband offer her release, she may go on her way, and he gives her nothing as a gift of release. If her husband does not wish to release her, and if he take another wife, she shall remain as servant in her husband’s house.

    [142] If a woman quarrel with her husband, and say: “You are not congenial to me,” the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house.

    [143] If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house, neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water.

    [144] If a man take a wife and this woman give her husband a maid-servant, and she bear him children, but this man wishes to take another wife, this shall not be permitted to him; he shall not take a second wife.

    [145] If a man take a wife, and she bear him no children, and he intend to take another wife: if he take this second wife, and bring her into the house, this second wife shall not be allowed equality with his wife.

    [146] If a man take a wife and she give this man a maid-servant as wife and she bear him children, and then this maid assume equality with the wife: because she has borne him children her master shall not sell her for money, but he may keep her as a slave, reckoning her among the maid-servants.

    [147] If she have not borne him children, then her mistress may sell her for money.

    [148] If a man take a wife, and she be seized by disease, if he then desire to take a second wife he shall not put away his wife, who has been attacked by disease, but he shall keep her in the house which he has built and support her so long as she lives.

    [149] If this woman does not wish to remain in her husband’s house, then he shall compensate her for the dowry that she brought with her from her father’s house, and she may go.

    [150] If a man give his wife a field, garden, and house and a deed therefor, if then after the death of her husband the sons raise no claim, then the mother may bequeath all to one of her sons whom she prefers, and need leave nothing to his brothers.

    [151] If a woman who lived in a man’s house made an agreement with her husband, that no creditor can arrest her, and has given a document therefor: if that man, before he married that woman, had a debt, the creditor can not hold the woman for it. But if the woman, before she entered the man’s house, had contracted a debt, her creditor can not arrest her husband therefor.

    [152] If after the woman had entered the man’s house, both contracted a debt, both must pay the merchant.

    [153] If the wife of one man on account of another man has their mates (her husband and the other man’s wife) murdered, both of them shall be impaled.

    [154] If a man be guilty of incest with his daughter, he shall be driven from the place (exiled).

    [155] If a man betroth a girl to his son, and his son have intercourse with her, but he (the father) afterward defile her, and be surprised, then he shall be bound and cast into the water (drowned).

    [156] If a man betroth a girl to his son, but his son has not known her, and if then he defile her, he shall pay her half a gold mina, and compensate her for all that she brought out of her father’s house. She may marry the man of her heart.

    [157] If any one be guilty of incest with his mother after his father, both shall be burned.

    [158] If any one be surprised after his father with his chief wife, who has borne children, he shall be driven out of his father’s house.

    [159] If any one, who has brought chattels into his father-in-law’s house, and has paid the purchase-money, looks for another wife, and says to his father-in-law: “I do not want your daughter,” the girl’s father may keep all that he had brought.

    [160] If a man bring chattels into the house of his father-in-law, and pay the “purchase price” (for his wife): if then the father of the girl say: “I will not give you my daughter,” he shall give him back all that he brought with him.

    [161] If a man bring chattels into his father-in-law’s house and pay the “purchase price,” if then his friend slander him, and his father-in-law say to the young husband: “You shall not marry my daughter,” the he shall give back to him undiminished all that he had brought with him; but his wife shall not be married to the friend.

    [162] If a man marry a woman, and she bear sons to him; if then this woman die, then shall her father have no claim on her dowry; this belongs to her sons.

    [163] If a man marry a woman and she bear him no sons; if then this woman die, if the “purchase price” which he had paid into the house of his father-in-law is repaid to him, her husband shall have no claim upon the dowry of this woman; it belongs to her father’s house.

    [164] If his father-in-law do not pay back to him the amount of the “purchase price” he may subtract the amount of the “Purchase price” from the dowry, and then pay the remainder to her father’s house.

    [165] If a man give to one of his sons whom he prefers a field, garden, and house, and a deed therefor: if later the father die, and the brothers divide the estate, then they shall first give him the present of his father, and he shall accept it; and the rest of the paternal property shall they divide.

    [166] If a man take wives for his son, but take no wife for his minor son, and if then he die: if the sons divide the estate, they shall set aside besides his portion the money for the “purchase price” for the minor brother who had taken no wife as yet, and secure a wife for him.

    [167] If a man marry a wife and she bear him children: if this wife die and he then take another wife and she bear him children: if then the father die, the sons must not partition the estate according to the mothers, they shall divide the dowries of their mothers only in this way; the paternal estate they shall divide equally with one another.

    [168] If a man wish to put his son out of his house, and declare before the judge: “I want to put my son out,” then the judge shall examine into his reasons. If the son be guilty of no great fault, for which he can be rightfully put out, the father shall not put him out.

    [169] If he be guilty of a grave fault, which should rightfully deprive him of the filial relationship, the father shall forgive him the first time; but if he be guilty of a grave fault a second time the father may deprive his son of all filial relation.

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/Assyria/Hammurabi.html

    There is a lot more at the link, but this is probably way too long a comment as it is. The point is, for all the libertarians, is that even back at the beginning of Human Civilization, people were not just free to zip in and out of relationships at will. Because doing that didn’t work, and was destructive to very notion of civilization.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • And anyway, I’m not sure that ancient Babylon would compare well to modern civilization. Back then, “ethnic cleansing” was the typical way to solve political and jurisdictional disputes.

  3. Why should people stay together, no matter how unhappy they are? One’s private life is no affair of the state’s.

    Moreover, what gives Krause the right to impose his moral views on others? Clearly, the man is living in a world of unreality of his own making. His position is as absurd as Comstock’s was.

    • Why should people stay together, no matter how unhappy they are? One’s private life is no affair of the state’s.

      Joint decisions are atypical in divorce proceedings (about 20% or so per Wallerstein). That aside, if you fancy you can make yourself ‘happy’ with a change of scene which requires running roughshod over a half dozen others, experience is likely to teach you that there’s one consistent element in all your dissatisfying relationships.

      For richer, for poorer, and all that. We used to be a nation of adults. This combox is evidence toward the proposition that we are no such thing anymore.

      • If you and your spouse are in a fight-to-the-death, then a No Fault divorce would hardly be appropriate, anyway. Taking your statistic at face value, the 20% who desire to part amicably should be chained to the 80% who don’t?

        • Again, about 20% of all divorces arise from some sort of mutual agreement. In the other 80%, one party abandons another who is not on board with marital dissolution. This business about ‘couples making a decision to…’ is humbug.

          Couples in the 20% minority are not ‘chained’ to the other 80% in any circumstance; that’s your evening cocktails talking.

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