If we seriously want men to marry and become fathers, let’s repeal no-fault divorce

I saw a very good article at the Heritage Foundation web site about the importance of fathers for children. The author Virginia Allen listed out some of the benefits that fathers provide to children:

Studies have found that children raised without a father are:

  • At a higher risk of having behavioral problems.
  • Four times more likely to live in poverty.
  • More likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime.
  • Twice as likely to never graduate high school.
  • At a seven times higher risk of teen pregnancy.
  • More vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
  • More likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • Twice as likely to be obese.

From education to personal health to career success, children who lack a father find themselves at a disadvantage to their peers raised in a two-parent household.

I was looking for a good analysis of why there’s been a decline of marriage and fatherhood, and I found an article by Joe Carter on The Gospel Coalition, of all places. By looking at marriage rates and historical events that changed the marriage rate, he was able to identify the cause of the decline of marriage – and fatherhood.

Marriage and divorce rates per capita
Marriage and divorce rates per capita

I’ll spare you the statistical analysis, which is excellent, and give you the conclusion – although you can guess it from the graph above:

Now that we’ve explored the data, what year should we use as the marker for the beginning of the decline of marriage in the United States? I would argue for 1985, the last year that the marriage rate topped 10 percent.

[…]What changed in 1985 that could have led to the decline in marriage? There are likely numerous factors—which we’ll examine in future articles—but one stands out in particular: By 1985, all states (except for New York) had enacted no-fault divorce legislation.

The most helpful book I know of about no-fault divorce is “Taken Into Custody”, by Dr. Stephen Baskerville. He wrote a column  for Crisis magazine that summarizes some of his ideas.


Feminists were drafting no-fault divorce laws in the 1940s, which the National Association of Women Lawyers now describes as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”

The result effectively abolished marriage as a legal contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.

The new laws did not stop at removing the requirement of citing grounds for a divorce, to allow divorce by mutual consent, as deceptively advertised at the time. Instead they created unilateral and involuntary divorce, so that one spouse may dissolve a marriage without any agreement or fault by the other.

Here’s what divorce does to the spouse who is the victim of the unilateral “no-fault” divorce:

Though marriage is a civil matter, the logic quickly extended into the criminal, including a presumption of guilt against the involuntarily divorced spouse (“defendant”). Yet formal due process protections of criminal proceedings did not apply, so forcibly divorced spouses became quasi-criminals not for recognized criminal acts but for failing or refusing to cooperate with the divorce by continuing to claim the protections and prerogatives of family life: living in the common home, possessing the common property, or—most vexing of all—parenting the common children.

Following from this are the horrendous civil liberties violations and flagrant invasions of family and individual privacy that are now routine in family courts. A personalized criminal code is legislated by the judge around the forcibly divorced spouse, controlling their association with their children, movements, and finances. Unauthorized contact with their children can be punished with arrest. Involuntarily divorced parents are arrested for running into their children in public, making unauthorized telephone calls, and sending unauthorized birthday cards.

In my conversations with men, no-fault divorce laws, and anti-male divorce courts are the main reasons given for why they do not pursue marriage and fatherhood. Men do not want to be coerced in a marriage with the threat of divorce by an unhappy wife. Men do not want to be subject to the government in so many areas of their lives if the wife does carry out the threat. They especially don’t want to be separated from their children. One my secular male friends told me that he would not marry unless the woman had evidence in her past of hating radical feminism and no-fault divorce. This was the main criteria. He actually was able to find a woman who was a men’s rights activist who hated divorce. But that was the only way he would marry.

Statistically speaking, the wife is more likely to initiate divorce than the husband. Women initiate 70% of divorces, the majority of those just because she is “unhappy”. I think this is because women get into marriage based on their feelings, and they think that it is the husband’s job to make them feel good. They see their happiness as the primary goal of the marriage, and see a marriage that does not make them happy as a marriage that needs to be ended.

Are we going to repeal no-fault divorce, then?

No-fault divorce was seen as a boon to women who had married the wrong men by following their hearts. It’s an interesting question to ask whether women really would want no-fault repealed. It would mean that they would have to get serious about who they marry, instead of just getting into marriage based on feelings. They would have to evaluate men according to expectations of what a man does in a marriage, instead of on feelings. They would have to think about what men want out of a marriage, and prepare themselves to provide for his needs. They would have to say no to their feelings, when choosing a man, and in keeping a man after the wedding.

If women aren’t willing to demand the repeal of no-fault divorce laws and get serious about men and marriage, then what’s the point of complaining that men don’t want to marry and become fathers? If you’re not willing to fix the root cause of the problem, then don’t complain about the problem.

10 thoughts on “If we seriously want men to marry and become fathers, let’s repeal no-fault divorce”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. The statistics don’t lie, and they hurt my heart. Divorce is the easy out for people who just don’t want to work on their problems.

    So many people think divorce doesn’t hurt anyone, but they fail to take into account the children. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when divorce really could be the best thing for everyone–especially the children. However, those cases wouldn’t fall under “no-fault”.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. ‘ One my secular male friends told me that he would not marry unless the woman had evidence in her past of hating radical feminism and no-fault divorce. This was the main criteria. ‘

    Shrewd guy. If a man doesn’t at least put his foot down that divorce and feminism aren’t allowed when choosing a helpmate…then he can’t complain if he chooses a helpmate who decides to divorce or be feminist.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with the principle. However, you have to go beyond “no fault” divorce. Even in states without “no fault,” you still have blanket terminology that doesn’t require any evidence.

    Divorce should be fault based, with Monetary awards, etc. weighted by degree of fault

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your premise here but how do we expect the govt to “force” people to stay married that no longer want to be married?

    I’m about reasonable small govt involvement in our private lives but I think this is going a bit too far. The root cause is folks are leaving marriage for selfish reasons thus to eliminate the root cause we need to:
    1. Instill altruistic values in our culture which starts at the church.
    2. Slowly turn Hollywood and Silicon Valley to our values one individual at a time.

    This will take decades, if not 2 or 3 generations, but I don’t see any other way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Women today are jumping into marriage based on their feelings for hot bad boys, rather than any realistic evaluation of the man for husband and father roles. Women’s fathers are not consulted. Pastors are useless as brakes on the women’s feelings. Women proceed on this plan because they see that the government is there to rescue them by allowing easy divorce, followed by generous alimony and child support, usually decided by anti-male judges and enforced by anti-male police (Duluth model training).
      If you take away the no fault divorce and instead enforced shared custody, women will see that divorce is less easy and remunerative than they thought. This will cause them to be more careful with their sex and marriage choices. They might even start controlling their own use of premarital sex for attention if they are taught how that leads to unhappiness and marital instability later on. The main thing is 1) getting rid of no fault divorce means LESS government and 2) it puts the obligation on women to stop their reckless behavior.
      Just think of how this would reduce divorce and fatherlessness. And less fatherlessness means mess crime, and less police needed. Less court, less government, less regulation of private choices. It all starts with making women take responsibility for their sex and marriage choices, instead of giving them a government bailout with no fault divorce, anti-male divorce courts, and government programs that make good husbands unnecessary.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I would t be surprised if virgin men with jobs and savings were marrying virgin women. What’s astonishing time next is when break all the sexual rules and have no job or savings, and then freely choose o marry a single mom with a past of promiscuity and divorce. Why do think they are so special that the rules don’t apply to them?


      1. Um yes, case in point is (was, since I got married 9 years ago) me.

        As a guy back then in my mid-30’s, decent job (I traveled a bit for one job as interim VP of software development on a fixed income cash flow and risk analytics product), decent money, I had options. I was meeting some nice women through seminary, church (and I gravitated towards ministry leaders), etc.

        So yes, I married a virgin, a devout and serious Christian woman, who took her faith seriously. It’s actually quite easy if you think about it: single moms and divorced women (and I’m sorry if I’m overly crass about it— I understand there are plenty of abusive husbands), I lost interest. Nearly immediately. It’s like the thin veneer of paint just got removed and I can see it’s not shiny or new. Yeah, no thanks.

        A friend of mine once asked for my opinion: there was a somewhat attractive single mom he had his eye on — she divorced him since he developed some mental health issues (not violent, not cheating but more than just chronic depression).

        I replied that I know of plenty of husbands who would not divorce their wives who 1) developed dementia, 2) had some kind of cancer, 3) became paraplegic/quadriplegic, 4) exhibited some mental health issues. And many would decry husbands who walk away from wives in this time of weakness.

        If we exhort husbands to be true to their marital vows, shouldn’t we also hold wives to this standard?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. WK,
    I fear that a large source of why they don’t think the rules apply to them is due to the church, and their Dads.
    The Christian Dads think they are being purposefully biblical by protecting their daughter’s feelings and will include freedom from accountability as a tool to protect her emotions. So an easy divorce process seems just and right to these “protecting” dads. They don’t see any damage from the process, only a daughter’s feelings to protect.

    Liked by 1 person

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