no-fault divorce cakeA bill has been filed in the Iowa House that would prevent no-fault divorce between parents with minor children was debated yesterday in subcommittee. The bill, House File 338, that sponsored by State Representative Ted Gassman (R-Scarville) and co-sponsored by State Representatives Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas), Tom Shaw (R-Laurens), Dwayne Alons (R-Hull), Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), Cecil Dolecheck (R-Mount Ayr), and Sandy Salmon (R-Denver) could be debated in the House Judiciary Committee this week.

The bill says that a party may petition for the dissolution of marriage only upon proof of any of the five following criteria when the welfare for any minor child may be impacted:

  1. The other party has committed adultery.
  2. The other party has committed a felony and has been sentenced to imprisonment.
  3. The other party has abandoned the matrimonial domicile for a period of one year or more and refuses to return.
  4. The other party has physically or sexually abused the party seeking the order of dissolution or a child of one of the parties.
  5. The parties have been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation for a period of two years or more.

Groups registered against this bill include: Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, National Association of Social Workers (Iowa Chapter), and Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund.

If find it odd that social workers who should know the harm that no-fault divorce has upon children would be against. This doesn’t eliminate the ability of couples to separate if necessary. It also gives people the ability to separate themselves from abusive situations – so the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s opposition is strange since that is written clearly in the bill. I can’t even fathom why Connie Ryan-Terrell of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund is against this bill. I didn’t realize that divorce was a “faith” value. I think she just registers against anything The FAMiLY Leader is in favor of. They are registered in favor of this bill, along with Concerned Christian Americans. The Iowa State Bar Association is declared undecided so far.

This is a positive bill. It doesn’t prevent divorce, but slows the brakes on it. Laws that opened the door to no-fault divorce has contributed, among other things, to the breakdown of the family. This seems like a common sense legal fix, but it alone can’t fix the problem. Until people start seeing marriage as the covenant that it is, put their spouse and children before themselves and don’t shy away from commitment we’ll continue to see high divorce rates.

Update: The bill won’t be heard in committee before the end of funnel week so is effectively dead for the year.

Photo Credit: Dr. John Bullas via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 3.0)

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