Cut in Divorce Rates Urged as National Goal

Article excerpt

Reducing divorce rates for families with children by one-third by the end of the decade should be a national goal, says a research paper on the national consequences of divorce.

If Congress set such a goal, it "would immediately focus national attention on the severe problems related to divorce," said Heritage Foundation analysts Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector in their recent paper, "The Effects of Divorce on America."

Reducing divorce rates by a third, they add, would bring it down to the 1970s rates.

The early 1970s is when "no-fault" divorce swept the country, notes another research paper, issued two weeks ago by the Family Research Council.

Since then, divorce rates "skyrocketed," said the paper, "Divorce Reform: Forming Ties That Bind," written by Bridget Maher.

One 1991 study showed that four out of every five divorces were unilateral or requested by only one spouse, it said.

Both research papers offer corrective solutions, including tax credits for parents in long-term marriages, marriage summits, community marriage-skills programs, and laws to require both spouses to "mutually consent" to the divorce.

The Heritage paper finds that the effects of divorce are not only long-lasting, but "spill over into every aspect of life," said Mr. Rector.

Federal and state governments spend $150 billion a year to subsidize single parenthood and $150 million to strengthen marriage, he and Mr. Fagan wrote. "Thus, for every $1,000 spent to deal with the effects of family disintegration, only $1 is spent to prevent that disintegration."

Reducing divorce and unwed childbearing "would not only be good for children and society but, in the long run, will save money," they said. …