Just before Valentine’s Day this year, a debate about divorce lit up the opinion pages of the New York Times. On one side, writer and lawyer Beverly Willett argued that the no-fault divorce laws in states across the U.S. (including Pennsylvania Divorce Laws) allow spouses to unilaterally “walk out on their families” too easily. On the other side, writer Vicki Larson defends no-fault divorce laws by highlighting the very reason they were enacted – to protect spouses and children that were stuck in unhealthy, dangerous marriages. In Pennsylvania, the waiting period before a no-fault divorce is just 90 days. Does no-fault divorce allow people to get divorced in Pennsylvania too easily?
In the Willett argued for an alternative to what she describes as the current “me-centered approach” – The Parental Divorce Reduction Act, which would require parents with children who are still minors to attend marriage education classes to learn about the damaging consequences of divorce and take an eight-month “time-out” to reflect on their decision before obtaining even filing for divorce.
Willett’s push to save marriages is countered by Vicki Larson, who takes issue with Willett’s assumption that many divorces today are “unnecessary.” Giving a voice to those in emotionally and/or physically abusive marriages, Larson argues that only the people in the marriage can decide whether a divorce is “necessary.” Larson points out that there’s nothing “me-centered” about no-fault divorce laws. Before the very same laws were enacted, she argues, many people and their children were trapped in unhealthy, dangerous marriages. Larson points out that studies have found that since no-fault divorce laws were enacted there have been fewer female suicides, fewer men and women suffering from domestic violence, and fewer women being murdered by their partners.
So what do you think – is it too easy to get divorced in Pennsylvania? Or do Pennsylvania no-fault divorce laws protect spouses and children? If you’re considering a divorce and live in Western Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland, etc.), contact our knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys to learn more about no-fault and fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania.