Thinking about Potentially Necessary Divorce-related Reforms

Over the past several years, the nation’s lawmakers, media, and the public have become deeply invested in various efforts to reform a few key areas of American life. Specifically, the U.S. has become fixated on reforming healthcare, immigration policies, and sentencing laws for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. All of these issues are pressing and arguably affect every aspect of the economy and deeply impact the ways in which a great number of families are able to live their lives.

In addition to reforming these areas of the American experience, it is also important to continue reforming another important area. The nation’s laws and culture are in need of reforms when it comes to the divorce process. And while many experts and advocates are pushing for change, the national discussion will likely need to center on this topic more broadly before significant reforms are likely to be both prioritized and passed.

For example, broader mechanisms need to be put in place in all states for the resolution of non-legal disputes related to family law matters. Too often co-parents land in courtrooms repeatedly and rack up substantial legal fees because they cannot agree on parental decisions such as whether a child should be compelled to take religious education classes or whether one co-parent should be compelled to pay for a child’s tutoring. Some mechanisms exist to help parents deadlocked in non-legal disputes, but most often parents either are compelled to go to court or remain in high conflict around their children if they cannot agree.

In addition, clear and predicable penalties must be both created and enforced with regards to parties who fail to disclose critical information and parties who insist on stonewalling their case in order to be vindictive to the other parties affected by it. This kind of behavior is not tolerated in the criminal justice system and is often dealt with harshly in the civil system. The family law system arguably needs to devise a similar approach.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Solving the Problem of Divorce, Have Your Say!” Deborah Moskovitch, Jan. 30, 2014

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