By Gerri Elder
Should laws be changed so that it is more difficult to get a divorce? Some might say that it is in the best interests of the family and the children if a couple can make their marriage work. Maybe so, but what happens when the marriage just can't be salvaged?
In Virginia, the Family Foundation has announced that it will push for legislation that would discourage divorce and reform no-fault divorce laws. A commission of clergy members, scholars, policymakers, attorneys and counselors at the Family Foundation worked together to write the legislative proposals.
This group of professionals has come up with a plan that they hope will help families stay together. With divorce rates rising, this group apparently feels as though it might be time for the government to stick its nose in the business of couples who want to divorce, especially those with children.
Chris Freund, vice president of policy and communications for The Family Foundation, claims that the government has a stake in making sure that marriages don't end in divorce because healthy marriages promote healthy children, families and communities. Freund says that the legislative proposals which the Family Foundation has drafted are based on social science and years of research by the commission. The commission feels that the legislative changes that they will propose would be positive steps in the direction of rebuilding the institution of marriage.
The Family Foundation of Virginia has proposed two pieces of legislation. The first is HB 871 which would take 1 percent of unrestricted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds and use that money instead for initiatives that encourage and strengthen marriage. The second piece of legislation that has been drafted is SB 725, which would require couples who wish to divorce to both consent to a no-fault divorce if there are children involved.
No-fault divorce is a divorce in which neither party is required to show that the marriage ended due to the fault of the other party. Most states now have no-fault divorce laws to make divorce less of a battlefield and to give people who just want out of their marriages a relatively simple way to do so without making any accusations of abuse or infidelity.
So if the proposed legislation is passed in Virginia, families in need will get less assistance while couples who wish to divorce will have a more difficult time doing so. This will supposedly strengthen families.
Ironically, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which will lose funding if these bills are passed, is designed to help needy families care for children in their own homes and reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job training. TANF also promotes two-parent families and marriage.