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Consultant: Make divorces harder to get

Some people believe that divorce is prevalent in choice states because those state's laws make it easy for spouses to dissolve a marriage. In line with this school of thought, if states designed laws that made it difficult for spouses to split, they would enjoy higher marriage rates.

This is a notion that the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family might consider. The group, which was founded by Louisiana's current governor, was designed to concoct programs, policies and incentives concerning marriage based on information and analysis they collected.

Recently, one of the co-founders of Marriage Savers, a national marriage consultant, told the commission that Louisiana laws allow spouses to obtain a divorce too easily. Furthermore, state policies do nothing to discourage unmarried women from having children.

The head of Marriage Savers said that Louisiana's law that demands couples live apart from each other for a certain period of time before granting a divorce makes it too easy to divorce. He pointed to proposed legislation in Missouri as the answer.

In that state, something called a "responsible spouse" would be identified in every divorce. This is the spouse that opposes the divorce. That spouse would receive 70 percent of the marital property being divided up. This is apparently to discourage spouses from engaging in extramarital affairs and forgetting about their duties to their spouse and children. Women that are being abused in their marriage can automatically be considered the responsible spouse.

Also proposed in Missouri are laws that state mothers would get child custody for the first seven years following a divorce and the father would take over after that period of time, all the way until the child reaches age 18.

Not everyone is sure that making divorce difficult is the right answer. This might force spouses to remain in a loveless marriage that can eventually grow hostile.

Source:, "Consultant to La. lawmakers: Make it harder for couples to divorce," Mike Hasten, Feb. 5, 2013

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