Though most attorneys don't want no-fault divorce laws changed,
some politicians believe bringing blame back into breakups would
the tide of failed marriages.
In a recent survey conducted by the American Bar Association, 84
percent of family lawyers across the country said they oppose
rescinding no-fault divorce laws, which allow spouses to split up
without assignment of blame.
"No single magic bullet is the answer. Fault was taken out of
divorce 25 years ago to promote harmony and reduce fighting," said
Ira Lurvey, chair of the ABA's 11,000 member family law section.
But some state officials believe a strong connection exists
between no-fault divorce laws, present in some form in all 50
and high numbers of failed marriages.
Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Enid, has worked for the last two years to
enact legislation which would make it more difficult for couples to
obtain a divorce.
He would like to see "incompatibility," one of the 12 reasons for
which couples may divorce, removed as a basis for divorce.
"It's harder to fire an employee than it is to obtain a divorce
from your wife," said O'Neal.
The Enid representative argues that marriage in Oklahoma has
become a sort of notarized dating.
O'Neal is not alone in his movement to revise no-fault divorce.
"Why should the state sanction marriage if it doesn't mean
anything?" said Sen. Howard Hendrick, R-Bethany.
Hendrick believes that Oklahoma should adopt a system whereby
couples whose divorce is based upon incompatibility would have to
wait up to a year to obtain the decree.
Hendrick also has considered a bifurcated marriage license system
in which couples obtain either a marriage of commitment license or a
marriage of convenience license.
If the couple had a marriage of commitment, they could not get a
"It's a kind of truth-in-marriage system," Hendrick said.
Hendrick has received support for his ideas from other
conservatives as well.
"We make divorce too easy in Oklahoma," said Rep. William D.
Graves, R-Oklahoma City.
"Marriage is a fundamental basic institution created by God ...
the children involved are the most harmed."
Revising no-fault divorce, said Graves, is an issue he will
consider next session if re-elected.
Graves also questions the motives of attorneys who oppose a
revamping of no-fault divorce.
"I imagine the reason lawyers don't want to revise (divorce laws)
is because it would cut down on divorces."
Family lawyer Lundy Partin says such reasoning is ill-conceived,
because attorneys fees would actually increase if no-fault divorce
Partin maintains that attorneys would spend more time having to
prove issues of who is to blame.
"It would run up attorneys fees," said Partin.
Oklahoma is one of several states with legislatures considering
changing divorce laws. …