According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), so called “covenant” marriages have a longer shelf life than non convenant marriages, aka, the divorce rate is less among covenant marriages. What is a covenant marriage? Well, the easiest way to answer that is to say that in states like Arizona and Louisiana, folks can enter a covenant marriage which means that in order to get a divorce, they have to have grounds. They can’t just go in an ask for an “irreconcilable divorce.” With covenant marriages:
Couples would sign a declaration of intent saying that if marital difficulties arise “we commit ourselves to take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling. Couples bound by a covenant marriage can get a divorce for adultery, physical abuse of a spouse or child, abandonment, separation for a period of at least 18 months or fraud.
The state of Oklahoma may be following suit, and abolish the strictly “no fault” divorce in the state, according to CNA – that is, if McCullough’s bill, House Bill 2634 takes effect. The bill is in its proposal state and would require 8 hours of pre-marital counseling and pre-divorce counseling as well. The proposal provides an incentive for couples by charging $50 for a marriage license with up to 8 hours of counseling but only $5 to couples with up to 20 hours or more of pre-marital counseling before obtaining a marriage license. According to CNA:
In a proposal aimed to reduce an extremely high divorce rate, an Oklahoma state legislator has introduced a bill that would reward engaged couples who obtain more pre-marital counseling and would require pre-divorce counseling for troubled marriages. It also creates “covenant marriages” with stricter standards for divorce. Oklahoma ranks in the top five nationally for currently divorced men and women.
This sounds like an intelligent proposition, considering the stats for the cost of divorce on the tax payer. Who knew that tax payers paid such a high price for the collective divorces and broken marriages in society? According to CNA, the cost to the tax payer is rather high and if true, the state (entrusted with issues such as marriage, family and divorce) has a high interest and should make divorce rates reduction a high priority. Consider that, according to the CNA:
Studies report that divorce has a major impact on the cost of state government, largely through public assistance programs. A report from the Institute for American Values and the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing,” conservatively estimates the annual taxpayer costs of divorce at up to $430 million for Oklahoma and more than $112 billion nationwide.
With stats like this, arguably not only Oklahoma, but every state should make reducing the divorce rates a priority – and should mandate not just covenant marriages, but pre-marital and pre-divorce counseling as well. Also, each party should be slapped with a hefty divorce tax. That might deter a lot of folks from filing for divorce. Charge about $5000 per person unless there is demonstrated abuse or adultery. In which case only the bad-acting spouse pays the tax. I think that will reduce the divorce rate exponentially.