Our opinion: Find middle ground on divorce

No one enters into a marriage looking forward to divorce, particularly marriages that involve children.

But for many commonwealth residents, the 1950s ideal of a husband, wife, children and a dog living in a house with a white picket fence never materializes. Financial troubles, domestic violence and mental abuse too often enter the picture – and Pennsylvania makes it pretty difficult for couples to cut ties when the going goes from tough to impassable.

We’d love to live in a world where divorce isn’t necessary. That is not, unfortunately, the world in which we live.

State Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Malvern, is working to draft a new version of her bill that will rewrite the state’s divorce laws. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with, but we can’t disagree with Howard’s justification for pursuing changes to the commonwealth’s divorce statutes.

“Pennsylvania’s current divorce law is a disgrace,” Howard wrote in her co-sponsorship memorandum. “Couples wishing to divorce must navigate a legal code established for the express purpose of preventing divorce. … All of this despite the fact that marriage is a contract entered into freely and, in Pennsylvania, more easily than almost any other state. Current law makes it substantially harder to end a marriage than any other contract, and exponentially more difficult than creating the contract in the first place. This is a legal absurdity, one that keeps people in bad marriages and prevents them from remarrying as their prior relationships remain in legal limbo.”

It should be harder to end a marriage than it is to change a cell phone plan. But that doesn’t mean divorce should be like launching nuclear weapons either. It’s long past the time for state legislators to find a middle ground on divorce laws in Pennsylvania.

Don’t be mistaken, we are 100% for marriage and married couples staying together and trying to save a marriage through a tough time. However, legislation needs to recognize sometimes, a marriage can’t be saved – and those situations need to be resolved much more quickly than they are now.


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