The Anti-Divorce Movement: a Persuasion Paper

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For the last two decades, divorce has become ever more prelivant in society. Studies conclude that less than one-third of all marriages end in divorce. The effects of divorce can be very devastating, especially when children are involved. Everyone who has ever listened to the news has heard the dismal statistics of adolescents coming from broken homes. The statistics showing the effects of a fatherless household includes: •63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S.D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census) •90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless home •85% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Criminal Justice&Behavior, Vol 14, p.403-426, 1978.) •71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Reports on the State of High Schools.) •85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control) •85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections 1992)(Schildt, 1994) As these statistics show, growing up in a single-parent home can increase an behavioral problems in adolescents. In an article titled, "Are single parent family a cause for social dysfunction?", Patrick Fagan and Stephanie Coontz answers bluntly “Yes. Broken families strongly correlated with a range of social pathologies.” Many people share this viewpoint across the country, including religious and political leaders. Many religious and secular groups share the idea that divorce is bad for the family and bad for the country. Politically, Conservatives and liberals alike have voiced similar opinions on the issue of divorce. Hillary Clinton, a feminist and liberal, wrote a book called "It Takes a Village" that discusses her “ambivalence (ce) about no-fault divorce when children are involved.” There is a growing grassroots effort among many different groups to try to prevent divorce, especially if children are involved. Critics have called it the anti-divorce movement; organizers prefer to call it “salvaging marriages”.

Many people have blamed the no-fault law, established in 1969, as the reason for the increase in divorce. Anti-divorce organizers are attempting to change the no-fault divorce law to laws that will make a divorce a more difficult process. The no-fault divorce law declares that a husband or wife has only to "declare that marriage is ‘irrevocably broken’ or that the couple has developed ‘irreconcilable differences’, and a divorce will be granted, usually after a waiting period. The law sides with the spouse who would dissolve the marriage contract, rendering a spouse who contests a divorce essentially powerless.” (Nordlinger, 1998, p.25)

Originally, no-fault laws were meant to make divorce less traumatic and more honest. Realistically, no-fault divorce laws make the marriage contract less binding. No-fault enables men and women to escape horrific marriages and it allowed them to abandon average ones as well. The numbers of divorce climbed, as divorce on demand became standard. Roger McCuler, a Republican, (responsible for a proposed bill in Virginia that would allow no-fault divorce only if both spouses agreed to divorce and no minor children were involved), believes that “loose divorce laws are a conspirator in the breakdown of the family.” (Nordingler, 1998, p.26) This breakdown of the family is considered by many, including Barbara Whitehead, to be Public Enemy No. 1. She identifies broken families responsible for a “generation of angry, underachieving youngsters.” (Whitehead, 1993)

With all the negativity of divorce, it is no wonder that there is a growing anti-divorce movement. One solution would be to prepare couples for marriage. Thus, the adoption of city policies to lower divorce by better preparing couples for marriage. In the community of Modesto, California, they have seen the divorce...
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