The Texas Legislature convenes this coming January--something that it does only once every two years. (Sometimes even that feels like it's too often!) In the weeks preceding the start of the lege, various state lawmakers propel themselves into the spotlight by proposing ideas that are simply crazy.
Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth has done so, filing a one-page bill, according to Austin's NBC affiliate KXAN, which would make it harder for people in Texas to divorce. Specifically, he wants to eliminate the no-fault divorce that allows couples throughout the United States to divorce without alleging one party is to blame for the end of the marriage.
He's also filed a bill in which the waiting period for a divorce would be extended from the current 60 days to 180 days--a move that would almost certainly draw out the divorce process for couples who could otherwise resolve a divorce more quickly and cooperatively.
According to the article, his intentions are to "reverse the trend" of divorce to counter its "negative effects." What he's not accounting for, however, is that forcing unhappy couples to stay together by putting up obstacles to divorce might have more pervasive, negative effects on them (and their children) than simply letting them divorce.
If couples determine in the course of divorce negotiations that they want to work on their marriage and stay together, we're certainly supportive of that and hopeful for a happy outcome. As we even pointed out in a recent blog article, a divorce filing can sometimes serve as a wake-up call for a couple who may not truly be ready for divorce.
Yet, from our experience, we know that most couples who decide to get divorced aren't going to change their minds just because a divorce is made more time-consuming or costly by intrusive legislation. When couples want to divorce, the best thing to do--especially when children are involved--is to enable them to do so, minimizing needless conflict, and helping them create solutions that work for everyone involved.
Texas has actually made divorce a less painful, more cost-conscious process in recent years through its groundbreaking passage of collaborative divorce laws. It'd be a shame for Texas to go backwards by eliminating no-fault divorce or forcing couples to stay married for longer than necessary. Divorce is challenging enough without lawmakers who assume what works for them works for everyone else.