The End of No-Fault Divorce in Kansas?
By Caroline Cordell
Kansas Rep. John Bradford has authored a bill that would essentially end “no fault” divorce for the entire state by eliminating “incompatibility” as grounds for divorce.
Proponents of the bill claim the purpose of the new legislation is to encourage people to not get divorced and to instead work on their marriages.
Rep. Bradford argued that the bill would not eliminate no-fault divorce. However, the only “no-fault” reason for divorce that exists in Kansas is incompatibility, so in effect, the bill would do away with “no-fault” divorce.
However, Kansas Rep. Jim Ward has already spoken out against the bill saying, “We should let people decide when to end relationships.”
No-fault divorce was a concept introduced in California more than 40 years and has since been adopted by every state. Before no-fault legislation existed, spouses had to show how the other spouse was at fault for the divorce, whether it is through adultery, abuse, or some other reason the courts decided validated a dissolution of marriage.
Keith Esau, who introduced the bill, was surprised “that [it is] getting as much controversy- or I should say as much notice as [it is].”
What would this mean for men getting divorced, though? Assumedly, even if the bill were passed, it would still be possible to get divorced.
However, the resultant litigation would likely be much nastier because evidence about a spouse’s marital behavior would need to be unearthed and authenticated.
Plus, it could make it more difficult for men to get out of relationships without specific abuse or adultery (or some other specific act) committed by their spouse.
Already in many divorces, claims of cheating or physical abuse run rampant, though those claims are not necessary and do not directly affect some aspects of a divorce, such as property division.
But even if this bill were passed, would it fulfill Bradford’s goal of decreasing the divorce rate?
An interesting study about the encouragement of divorce in America was published in 2011 entitled “Child Support Guidelines: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” which argued that divorce was encouraged in the United States due to child support guideline systems. In divorce, often one part ends up paying a disproportionately large amount of child support to the spouse.
If divorce were encouraged in large part due to child support regulations, then passing this bill would not even fulfill Bradford’s goal.
Additionally, spouses who are already thinking about divorce would likely still find a way to get divorced. What would end up happening would be nasty and extended litigation escalating the feelings of hatred between spouses.