By John Clark
Lawmakers in Iowa are bucking a modern trend and seeking to eliminate “no-fault” divorces, which have become an integral party of state family laws, according to a report this week from Radio Iowa.
According to sources, seven Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives are looking to pass a bill that would restrict the ability of parents with minor children to file for a “no-fault” divorce, which does not require the parties to place the blame on one spouse or the other.
Traditionally, courts required couples to provide a reasonable reason for a divorce, which often led to more costly legal separations.
Today, however, all 50 states allow parties to file for divorce for reasons as simple as “irreconcilable differences.” Such faultless divorces are often cheaper, less contentious, and take a shorter period of time.
Several prominent lawmakers in Iowa, however, are worried that the potential effects of divorce on children should make divorce more difficult for couples with minor children.
According to Tedd Gassman, a Republican from Scarville, Iowa, courts should “look out for the children instead of constantly worrying about adults.”
One of Gassman’s constituents, Daren Clark, told reporters that “no-fault” divorces have “damaged thousands of families and their children” because they have created a “do what’s best for me” attitude among parents.
Under the terms of the proposed law, parents with minor children would have to prove that one spouse had committed adultery, been convicted of a felony, or had abused a family member in order to obtain a divorce.
Of course, this proposal, which goes against the trend of family law reform that has blossomed over the last 40 years, has been heavily criticized by many family law experts.
Many critics, for example, have noted that forcing a couple to stay together despite vast differences could ultimately be more harmful to the children, who would be forced to live in a contentious environment at home.
Indeed, other observers note that lowering obstacles to divorce can lead to more relaxed separations, which allow former spouses to craft child custody agreements in the spirit of cooperation, which is often better for children.
According to Rachel Scott, a member of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, divorces in which fault must be determined often “escalate tension and conflict between two individuals.”
Nevertheless, Gassman and his colleagues remain convinced that “no-fault” divorces are a negative development, and they seem determined to push their bill through the Iowa House.
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