Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system

I find myself thinking about life-long married love on Valentine’s Day, so I’m going to post an article by marriage-defender Jennifer Roback Morse about one of the biggest challenges to life-long married love.


Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen BaskervilleWith penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family in America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

She explains who is really behind the attempt to destroy marriage, and the answer might shock you.

It’s important for people to understand the real reasons why people are not getting married, so that we can do something to encourage them to marry that really fixes the problem. Talk to any man and he will tell you that aside from the concerns about the economy and the national debt, the main reason why he is not willing to get married is the unfairness of the family courts. If you don’t understand the threats that men are seeing with respect to marriage, it might be a good idea to take a look at this essay by Stephen Baskerville, hosted by the Christian Touchstone magazine. It’s a summary of the book that Dr. Morse reviewed. I consider that book “Taken Into Custody” to be a must-read for anyone contemplating marriage.

6 thoughts on “Jennifer Roback Morse on the injustice of the American family court system”

  1. Thank you for this…this is probably why Jesus said marriage is a life-long project…Divorce is undercutting all of us…


    1. You’re welcome. My goal is for people to see all of the laws, policies and economic factors that cause people to get married and stay married and have children, or not. If we are serious about promoting marriage, then we have to be serious about it and promoting the incentives that cause people to do it and stick with it. It’s no use just reading the Bible and saying to people “man up” and “woman up”. That is just laziness. What we need to do is think about how what causes people to marry and not marry and then promote the right incentives and discourage the disincentives. For example, if we had a presumption of shared parenting in custody disputes, or if we repealed no fault divorce, etc., then that would be promoting marriage.

      It does push more work back to individuals to be more careful about they marry, but we could always provide couples with vouchers for premarital counseling to offset the costs of their efforts to think before they marry.


      1. I agree that no fault should be repealed. It has been devastating. I think joint custody is favored now in most states, but this seems to be a way for some men to get away with paying less because the women end up having the children most of the time with very little funds. I did some research on this about a year and a half ago (in my 2010 archives), and at that time, men were ending up still fairly healthy economically, but the women and children were not, which is the majority of that smaller society… Unfortunately, one of the leading factors still for divorce is adultery; this is why I agree that no fault should be repealed.
        When my husband left us, I felt just as your above article explained–now the state could tell me how to raise my children. I begged my husband not to put us under those heartless conditions, but he could not hear. In the group of women I minister to–single mothers–the fathers have very little interest in helping; in some cases, they are using their rights to have their children but only to put them in day care. I serve women who were housewives, committed mothers…The divorce problem is complex, but I think adultery is the biggest part of the problem.
        Marriage, man and woman, is in the image and likeness of God. Whenever we try to destroy that, we destroy ourselves. I also believe that atheism is a fruit of the divorce mentality…I pray that it will become rare again for everyone’s sake. Thank you again for this article.


  2. Great video. I wish she had elaborated a little more on her closing points, especially how universities can encourage scholars who are faithful to Christianity.


  3. Wintery, I’m a little confused by your assertion “Talk to any man and he will tell you that … the main reason why he is not willing to get married is the unfairness of the family courts.” I fear your use of the word “any” may be undercutting your point.

    I’m sure you encounter a multitude of men on the internet, even commenters in your own blog, that are entirely unaware of these issues. How can you say that “any” man would say that these issues trouble him, when there are so many men who live in ignorance?

    Not to nit pick, but it was a shocking assertion to me, as it seems the vast majority of men actually have never even heard of these problems. Isn’t that one of the focuses of men’s rights groups? To even just get the word out there?


    1. Francine, I agree with you. But I wonder whether there are more men who know about it on an experiential level – from seeing their own father or someone else’s mistreated by the family court system. So that they have this sort-of subconscious fear that they haven’t even researched that it could happen to them. The divorce rate is 40-45% for first marriages. Every young man knows someone who is divorced. I have co-workers who tell me about it.


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