Guest / Limited Access /
Marriage Help Comes to Capitols

Lawmakers in three states are assessing the latest legal tactics to strengthen American marriages.

In North Carolina, the proposed Healthy Marriage Act would require divorcing couples to attend communication counseling and, if applicable, a class on how divorce affects children. The waiting time before a divorce could be finalized would be doubled (to two years), and couples would no longer be required to live separately during the interim.

In Texas and Georgia, lawmakers are considering similar bills that would apply only to parents of children under 18. The bills would extend waiting periods to 6 months and 11 months, respectively.

The bills are the latest attempts to reverse troubling marriage numbers, where no current strategy is a clear winner. While the divorce rate has dropped over the past decade (from 4 per 1,000 people in 2000 to 3.6 in 2011), marriage rates are dropping as well (from 8.2 in 2000 to 6.8 in 2011).

The bills take a different tack than Louisiana's pioneering "covenant marriages," where couples waive their rights to a no-fault divorce and have to seek counseling before getting one. Only 2 in 100 couples opt for a covenant marriage, but do stay together more often than those in traditional marriages, said W. Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia (UVA). "It was having that sense of commitment, and the expectation that if they did divorce, it would be more difficult."

But the counseling requirement proved dicey, since not all counselors are pro-marriage, said Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers. "What [a study] found was quite disturbing," he said, citing Covenant Marriage by UVA sociology professor Steven ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedOne of Largest Christian Colleges Decides Divorcing President Can Keep His Job
One of Largest Christian Colleges Decides Divorcing President Can Keep His Job
Alma mater of Ebola doctor Kent Brantly believes in 'covenant of marriage' but also 'power of grace.'
TrendingJames MacDonald Asks Forgiveness for Unbiblical Discipline of Harvest Bible Chapel Elders
James MacDonald Asks Forgiveness for Unbiblical Discipline of Harvest Bible Chapel Elders
Megachurch pastor confesses board slandered three elders as 'false messengers' last year.
Editor's PickDo Christian Schools Produce Good Citizens? The Evidence Says Yes.
Do Christian Schools Produce Good Citizens? The Evidence Says Yes.
Christian private school graduates are just as engaged in their communities as their public school peers—if not more.
Comments
Christianity Today
Marriage Help Comes to Capitols
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.