There isn't much government can do to encourage people to marry; but for the last 40 years, government has been heavily implicated in encouraging divorce. All states now have no-fault divorce laws, which make it easier to dissolve a marriage contract than a cellphone contract. One thing policymakers could do is revisit the ease with which we allow couples -- especially those with minor children -- to dissolve their marriages.
A new group, the Coalition for Divorce Reform, is trying to do just that. Chris Gersten, a former Bush administration official and my husband of 44 years, started the organization -- and he is joined by many of the leading marriage and divorce experts in the country. They are working together to promote legislation that will require divorcing couples to take research-based skills-training programs, which have been shown to reduce divorce. The aim is to help those couples in low-conflict marriages if they have minor children and neither partner has engaged in physical abuse or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. More information can be found online at www.divorcereform.info.
This effort may not rescue the institution of marriage from the peril it's in, but it's a start. New research tells us that 30 percent of divorcing couples say they would be willing to reconcile if there were low-cost approaches to saving their marriages available.
In the end, it's the children who pay for the devastating effects of divorce. It's time we start putting our kids first.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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