April 10, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
This piece by Leslie Loftis isn’t per se a response to Brad Wilcox’s articles telling men to “put a ring on it,” but it might as well be (Daily Caller, 3/31/17). Wilcox reprised the undeniable merits of marriage for men, but all but entirely ignored one of the main reasons men avoid the altar – divorce. To say the least, it was a strange omission. After all, one look at what men, and particularly fathers, go through in divorce court would have at least suggested to Wilcox – or anyone – that revitalizing the institution of marriage isn’t as simple as exhorting men to, well, marry.
Wilcox of course was deluged by comments to exactly that effect and, interestingly, we haven’t heard from him since. But Loftis’s take on the matter – “To Fix Marriage, We Need to Fix Divorce” – is spot on. Face it, men read the news. When they do, they learn that divorce is a runaway truck coming straight at them. They can lose their wife, their children, most or all of their assets and find themselves in debt for life. Don’t believe me? Just read Christie Blatchford’s latest series of articles on child support in Canada, about which I’ve reported the past four days.
Of course few people go into a marriage expecting to divorce. But everyone understands that whether one gets divorced or not is simply not up to the individual. No fault divorce laws allow anyone to divorce for any reason or no reason. And finally, most people have some idea of the divorce rate. First marriages have about a 40% chance of ending in divorce.
In short, there is but one way to be sure of avoiding the disaster that is divorce for men – don’t get married. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
Wilcox is right; marriage is good for the individuals involved in an intact marriage. It’s also good for society, since married partners are more reliable, less likely to commit crimes, more likely to be employed, less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, etc. than their unmarried peers. Therefore, any healthy society will do what it can to promote stable marriages.
But Loftis is right too. The specter of divorce looms over every marriage and as long as divorce is such an unambiguously bad deal for men, we can’t seriously expect them to embrace the institution that’s so important to societal well-being. Many times I’ve pointed out that our divorce laws are Exhibit A for the case that we live in a deeply dysfunctional society. The lengths we go to encourage women to leave their husbands would shock a less jaded polity. Our unwillingness to make major changes to family law that are obviously necessary to a healthy society is one of the hallmarks of our decline. Loftis gets that.
If we want marriage to make a comeback—and we should, for the sake of children, women, men, and society as a whole because the advantages are not figments of researchers’ imaginations—we are up against not only a fancy-free singledom, but also men’s desolate experience of divorce…
Some realities of divorce, however, are simple to address through family law reform. State budgets and agencies see the impact of fractured families, and state lawmakers have heard the outcry of their constituents.
One of the largely solvable problems concerns the creation of father absent homes through custody assumptions. Since the divorce boom, courts have routinely and habitually awarded custody to mothers and turned fathers into visitors in their children’s lives.
And she also understands what we can do about it.
The vast and growing body of research — meta-studies, 43 peer reviewed studies, 110 world experts, and the largest study of children post separation — has refuted the old assumptions about child custody, and grassroots efforts to change custody laws have been spreading across the US for almost a decade. Previous joint custody reforms boosted marriage statistics. This year, twenty-five—half of the states—have a pending shared parenting bill. The details vary by state, but these are essentially rebuttable presumptions for kids to have equal time with both parents post-divorce or parent breakup. This is up from 22 states with bills last year…
Shared parenting is in the best interests of the children, and it could change a story like John G’s. Men would see a change from their brothers losing everything in a divorce to just losing the marriage. If we reduce that risk then perhaps some men will reconsider marriage and society will realize the benefits of a return to marriage.
Right. But it won’t just be men who benefit from more secure marriages. They’ll benefit from more sensible divorces too. Sensible family laws would mean that men lose their wives, but only a portion of their time with their kids and only a reasonable amount of their hard-earned income and assets. Men can handle that. What they can’t handle is a scorched earth policy with them as the scorched earth. A lifetime of debt plus never seeing their children are just too much.
And of course kids, mothers and society generally would benefit. So would the public purse that would no longer have to fund the same number of prison cells, drug treatment centers, remedial education programs, etc.
There’s a lot to like about shared parenting and the only downside is to the pocketbooks of a few family lawyers. Loftis, like so many others, tells it like it is. Is anyone listening?
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
#divorce, #childcustody, #sharedparenting