I was a toddler when the no-fault divorce revolution really got going, but I heard a lot about divorce and separation from a very early age. People used to separate for a time, to work on their marriage or just to find out what it would be like to be apart, and then get back together. Of course, many separations would start out with that idea, and then become permanent, and sometimes it looked like one spouse intended that all along. Nowadays, a marriage-saving separation is a pretty old-fashioned idea and separation generally means eventual divorce. With divorce laws now being "unilateral", an agreement to a temporary or conditional separation isn't legally binding, and the further apart people get, the more everything around them conspires to pull them further apart.
"What Maisie Knew", the only Henry James book I've ever read, is very worthwhile reading for family lawyers or anyone else interested in divorce and child custody. It reminds us how long these horrible situations have been going on, and that it's not human nature that has changed, but the circumstances in which the better or the worse aspects of human nature are allowed and encouraged to be acted out. (My 1950s copy is illustrated by Edward Gorey!)
"Six in 10 women describe themselves as the primary breadwinners in their households, and 54% manage the family finances, according to the poll by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. Even so, 49% fear becoming a bag lady ..." This includes 27% of women earning more than $200,000 a year"and 43% of married women.
". . . On Monday, the CFPB updated existing regulations so it will be easier for stay-at-home spouses to get credit cards. . . . At a Congressional hearing last June, Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit challenged the CFPB and said the rule was a threat to women in abusive relationships and could create an added burden on those who are divorced or widowed, or who don’t work while their spouse is serving in the military."
A Virginia law governing marriage celebrants discriminates against religions that do not have ordained ministers. Circuit Court Chief Judge Dennis J. Smith said the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The law says non-ordained ministers must post a $500 bond, and congregations without clergy may only have one marriage celebrant. Four Sikhs challenged the law with help from the ACLU
"The cardinal said he considers divorce and children born out of wedlock a greater social problem than same-sex marriage. 'Same-sex marriage is not at this point prevalent in our society, and probably won’t be' because gays are a minority, McCarrick said. Children whose parents divorce or are born out of wedlock, he added, 'find themselves out on a limb,' which 'is a serious problem in our society.'”
People who work with marriage education have so much to say about it that it is sometimes hard to find a summary of the basics: What is it? Does it work? How? Who needs it? How is it different from therapy or pastoral counseling?
That last one is still a widespread and tragic misunderstanding. Couples don't know about marriage education or don't explore it because, as they say, "We tried counseling." And legislators and policymakers, even those trying to encourage people to get help for their marriages, often don't understand that it isn't "counseling", and can be delivered by trained lay people.
Seth Eisenberg of PAIRS, one of the leading marriage education curricula, addresses this need in his new article,"The ABCs of Marriage and Relationship Education". On the things that I'm an expert in, I sometimes get so involved in them that it gets harder to explain the basics in a way that people understand, but on the other hand, when I make an effort to do that, I actually learn more: I discover new connections between different parts of the field, and new reasons why it's relevant and important in terms of my basic values in my own life and our shared values as a society. That is definitely going on in Seth's article as he summarizes the key lessons of Marriage Skills Education and how they are instilled not merely by reciting them, but through training and practice.
Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson said he would not make a court case out of it by forwarding same-sex marriage license applications to the judges, but “I’m glad to accept the applications – I’ll keep them on file. ... I believe that having the opportunity to tell their stories and how the law affects them is why some same-sex couples have taken the time to apply for a marriage license in the Arlington Circuit Court, even though they realize it will be denied.”
This is one of those things divorce lawyers really dislike in certain cases, but we pretty much take it for granted and don't think much about the possibility of changing it. It's a huge issue for unemployed and underemployed women -- and men, too. Although the article below doesn't even bother to report how many men become uninsured.
California: State Ban on Therapy to Change Gays Is Put on Hold
- AP 12/21/12
"A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday put a hold on a new California law that bans therapy focused on turning gay minors straight. The court issued an injunction until it can hear full arguments. The law was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 ... therapists and counselors who use “sexual orientation change efforts” on clients under 18 would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards. This month, two federal judges in California arrived at opposite conclusions on whether the law violates the Constitution."