Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

No Fault Divorce

First, I feel like I should start with the disclaimer that I’ve never been divorced.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with divorcing, and I’ve held plenty of people’s hands through their divorces, through varying degrees of civility and abuse.  So, I’m coming to this with kind of an outside perspective, and more of a historical one.

Beverly Willett’s husband cheated on her and attempted to divorce her five years ago.  Because New York, at the time, did not have No Fault divorce, she refused to agree to the divorce, and dragged out the process for five years.  Until her husband wound up moving to New Jersey, living there for a year, and then divorcing her under their No Fault divorce laws.  She describes this decision to fight the divorce as trying to save her marriage and keep the man she loved.

If you love something, set it free…  Remember that cheese-tastic poem from the 70s?  It was on everything.  T-shirts, plaques, tacky vans…

I’ll let you go read her article and draw your own conclusion as to her motives.

But I want to give you a little history on No Fault Divorce.  Before No Fault Divorce came into being in 1970 in California, in order to divorce at least one half of a couple had to sue the other with things that were considered legally actionable:  adultery, abuse, mental cruelty, abandonment, etc… *  In the absence of any actionable complaints, people were told to work it out.  In many cases, where differences were unwork-out-able, people would fabricate accusations against one another just to be allowed to escape loveless or unhappy marriages.

No Fault Divorce removed the necessity for that sort of lying.  People could just go, “Yeah, this isn’t working.  We’re unhappy, not as compatible as we thought, we really can’t live together anymore,” and get a divorce.  Yes, even if the other half of the partnership didn’t want to.  Which, let me tell you, has historically been a boon to abused women.

See, that’s the funny thing about controlling or abusive people of either gender, they generally don’t want their victims to get away.  But when you remove the necessity of asking the controlling or abusive partner for permission to divorce, it makes getting away just that much easier for people who need it to be.

Now Marcia Pappas who is President of the New York Chapter of NOW, and who should fucking well know better, has announced her belief in the evils of No Fault Divorce.  She says it removes bargaining chips for the less-moneyed spouse.  Ok,  if there ‘s a need for bargaining chips, the odds of it being an uncontested No Fault Divorce are pretty damned slim.  If negotiation like that is required, there’s going to probably be a judge and lawyers involved who will hammer out what is fair.

Historically, the people most punished by divorce laws that require you to show cause are women, abused women, poor women.  No Fault Divorce relieves abuse victims from the necessity of trying to arrange documentation of abuse, which if their abuser has been careful may take a while further endangering their lives.

Is No Fault Divorce open to abuse?  I guess, if you think trying to make someone who doesn’t want to be with you or love you stay with you is a worthy goal.  Then yes, I suppose you could say it’s open to abuse.

The thing to remember is that in most states alimony and child support are not dependent on who was at fault.  They are dependent on who makes how much and what the children need to be adequately supported.  And in the many states that have community property laws, fault plays no part whatsoever in who gets what.  No Fault Divorce does not mean a “get out of jail free” card for financial responsibility.

*There were other restrictions on divorce as well, in the 40s, my great-grandmother lied about being pregnant, because if she’d admitted she was pregnant, they wouldn’t have let her divorce her alcoholic, abusive husband who had run off leaving her with 9 kids and one on the way.

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2010 by in Featured Articles, Feminism and tagged , , .

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