A new CNN piece examines the history of no-fault divorce, asking the very good question: "Why do some conservatives want to get rid of it?" Because that is a thing now. As Republican-controlled state legislatures take steps to effectively ban abortion and birth control alike, a portion of the same movement has been giving the side-eye to getting rid of no-fault divorce laws.
The "issue," if one can call it that, is getting more attention because House Republicans decided on a certified full-tilt godbotherer to be the new speaker of the House, and that godbotherer has very strong opinions on the matter.
Newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson has been a vocal opponent of no-fault divorce, which allows couples to obtain a divorce without proving fault — and without both parties agreeing to the split. In a 2016 sermon, he claimed it turned the United States into a “completely amoral society.”
No-fault divorce has been with us for a mere half-century; like Roe v. Wade, it dates back to a time when married American women couldn't open their own bank accounts without a husband's permission, much less divorce an abusive spouse without being wrung through a legal system designed to protect the abusers.
But no-fault divorce has been an unalloyed good. No, really: As the CNN story explains, a new framework for divorces that requires no proof of adultery, abuse, or other wrongdoing simplifies the process, reduces trauma (including for the children,) and avoids the need for couples to come up with fraudulent reasons for a divorce that both parties want. But mostly, it's had a dramatic impact on household violence.
Since 1969, studies have shown no-fault divorce correlates with a reduction in female suicides and a reduction in intimate partner violence. A 2004 paper by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolvers found an 8 to 16% decrease in female suicides after states enacted no-fault divorce laws. They also noted a roughly 30% decrease in intimate partner violence among both women and men, and a 10% drop in women murdered by their partners.
So there you go: It turns out that misogynistic, racist European assholes did not perfect human governance back in the 16th and 17th centuries, in their spare time between bloodlettings and witch hunts.
Unless, of course, you don't want to let victims get out of abusive marriages?