Should divorce be hard or easy? Should it be painful or painless? Should the legal steps become more complicated or should our lawmakers streamline the process?
For those I know who have walked through divorce proceedings, most of them would tell you that the steps to get a marriage dissolved are pretty cumbersome. There are just so many issues and dimensions...the research, the money, the kids...that it can take many years to hash it all out. While that is going on, the emotional toll on the family can be great and those in the legal profession end up with a huge proportion of any assets the family has. Many of these folks would suggest that lawmakers need to make it easier.
However, if those who govern us (and who have the power to define the hoops that one must jump through in order to divorce) are acting in the best interests of the people, they will do all they can to encourage marriages to last, not to end. Children from divorced homes are statistically more likely to have a myriad of social and emotional problems. Divorce has been shown to have a significant negative economic impact, something our lawmakers should always consider. Finally, many researchers are seeing the long-term generational impact of divorce on families. If nothing changes and divorce becomes easier, we are likely to see things in our culture get worse, not better.
The one thing that parents should be required (by law) to carefully examine when considering divorce is the impact that it will have on their kids. While most parents believe that a divorce will bring peace to their lives (and thus a better life for their children), this is rarely the case. The kids almost always get the bum end of the deal.
With all these issues in mind, there is some good news brewing. Legislation has been introduced in several states (including in Georgia) that will require a year-long waiting period for divorce when children under 18 are in the home. Under current Georgia law, a no-fault divorce can be granted in just 30 days. The proposed law would require that parents attend a series of classes designed to help them to understand the significant impact of their divorce on their children. It would also point them to resources that might help them to rebuild their broken marriage.
My friend Greg Griffin (a pastor and counselor) has helped to develop the legislation in Georgia. You can read more about what is happening in Georgia and a few other states in an excellent article at the Coalition for Divorce Reform website.
Please do all you can to help support this type of legislation in your state. Contact lawmakers, your pastor, or other people of influence to make sure that they realize that this is an option that might truly help families. Pray that laws like this will be instituted soon in every state across our nation.
More importantly, be a voice of wisdom and encouragement to those you know who are talking about divorce. Love them, coach them, and help them to consider the long-term implications of their choices. Because every family matters!