Legislation to end no fault divorce in Kansas could threaten families

Washburn Review Staff

Rep. Keith Esau, a republican from Olathe, has introduced legislation that would abolish no-fault divorce in Kansas, the bill would remove incompatibility as a legitimate reason for divorce, it is Esau’s hope that this move would encourage married couples try harder to solve marital problems. 

The bill may be written with the intention of helping save the institution of marriage from decay, but it’s likely to create more problems for struggling marriages.

Many people have voiced concerns about the rising divorce rates in the United States, but this bill will not reduce the rates of divorce. Proponents of the bill may be trying to protect family values, but should the government be involved in the personal lives of its citizens?

The major problem with the bill is that it seeks to determine what constitutes a valid reason for divorce. The removal of “incompatibility” as a justifiable reason removes any matter of privacy from the divorce process.

If a couple seeking divorce does not wish to publicly state a reason why one should be burdened with blame, this bill would leave them no ability to keep the matter private. The bill would lead to all divorces needing to have one partner shoulder the blame.

In the case of many divorces, both partners shoulder some of the blame. Many things can go wrong in any relationship. Any marriage takes commitment and sacrifice from both partners. Sometimes there is not a reason like infidelity behind a couple wanting to end a marriage. Can legislators go so far as to demand that one of the individuals in the marriage take the blame?

Eliminating a mutually agreeable divorce may likely lead to more problems to the stability of families. If two people who are incompatible wish to divorce but cannot justify their reasoning to the state, then they are trapped in an unhappy marriage.

Can the state mandate that the emotions and beliefs of intimate partners are invalid if they do not conform to a predetermined list of justifiable reasons for separation?

The government has no way to ensure that the couple without a valid reason to divorce will be happy. This is incompatible with the ideology that everyone is entitled to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. 

Every individual should be intitled to a certain degree of privacy in their lives. The commitments that two consenting adults make to one another when in love should not be the concern of the state.

Even though marriage is recognized by the state, it should not be forced on people who no longer wish to remain married by the state. Why should it be justifiable to let the government interfere in deeply personal aspects of an individual’a life?

The second issue with the bill is that the removal of incompatibility as a valid reason for divorce has to be justifiable outside of any religious base. It is unlikely that the removal of “incompatibility” could be justified without religious based value systems.

Unless the legislators find a way to justify the bill from a completely secular perspective the bill would fail to maintain a separation of church and state.

This is a problem with most legislation surrounding marriage because many opinions on marriage are rooted in a religious perspective.

One final problem with the bill is what the consequences would be for children. Divorce has a major impact on children.

If all divorces need to be adversarial to be considered valid, then all the children with parents seeking divorce will be under additional stress.

Children don’t need the divorce process to be more difficult than it already is. If the parents seeking a no-fault divorce can separate without having to wait for conflicts to escalate, then the children may not have to be exposed to as much fighting between their parents.

The bill may have been drafted with the intention of helping keep marriages together, but the potential consequences to families seeking divorce leave the bill indefensible.

People may be worried about the state of marriage in the United States, but the solution to the high divorce rates is not allowing the state to restrict the freedom of two people to end a marriage that fails to make them happy.

From a bipartisan perspective, this bill should not be supported. The bill cannot guarantee that it will benefit any people seeking divorce; it has the potential to have serious negative consequences to the families involved.