Archive for Sunday, February 9, 2014

Proposed bill would abolish no-fault divorce in Kansas

February 9, 2014


Kansas residents seeking divorces would have to prove their spouse’s culpability for the crumbling marriage under legislation that would abolish no-fault divorce in the state.

Rep. Keith Esau, an Olathe Republican, introduced the measure removing “incompatibility’” as a valid reason for divorce. He said he offered it on behalf of a fellow lawmaker but supports its content.

“No-fault divorce gives people an easy out instead of working at it,” Esau told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. “It would be my hope that they could work out their incompatibilities and learn to work together on things.”

Esau, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, did not write the measure but said it’s designed to clean up Kansas law by requiring specific reasons for divorce. He said he received constant phone calls from Kansas residents after introducing the bill Thursday.

“I’m really surprised that’s getting as much controversy — or I should say as much notice — as (it is),” he said.

It also drew immediate opposition from another Judiciary Committee member, Democrat Jim Ward of Wichita, who has handled divorce cases in his legal practice.

“We really should let people decide when to end relationships,” he said.

The bill would require Kansans seeking a divorce to prove their spouses’ fault, a requirement that was common throughout the United States 60 years ago.

“That’s really not a healthy way to deal with families that are changing,” Ward said.

He said that making divorces less contentious helps couples with children maintain respectful relationships because they will need to continue to parent together.

Esau disputed the suggestion that bill was an example of government overreach. He said the state gives benefits to married couples, such as tax breaks, so couples should not enter into the institution of marriage lightly.

Moreover, he said, the state has a vested interest in supporting “strong families,” and divorce undermines that.

“I think we’ve made divorce way too easy in this country,” he said. “If we really want to respect marriage it needs to be a commitment that people work at and don’t find arbitrary reasons to give up.”

Morgan O’Hara Gering, a family law attorney in Wichita, questioned whether the bill would actually deter many people from seeking divorces. She said it would probably make divorces nastier by requiring people to prove their spouse’s fault in court.

“It could create a lot more litigation and a lot more headaches just to fight about who’s to blame,” she said.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

It is more GOP big government intruding into the private lives of voting taxpayers. Too many of these ALEC right wingers

GOP politicians must believe that being a politicians somehow brings monster amounts of wisdom and assumed morality. I don't think the legislature is the proper venue for this intrusive action. Put it to the voters. GOP politicians cannot be trusted to make rational decisions.

If people don't want to mess with divorce best not get married.

Doug Weston 4 years, 4 months ago

It's about time that all those good Christian conservative politicians who want to "preserve the sanctity of marriage" turn their attention to the 50%+ divorce rate among heterosexual couples.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 4 months ago

Marriage should be harder to get into and easier to get out of. We don't need any more bible-wielding nut-jobs, trying to instill their religious obligations on the rest of us.

Betty Bartholomew 4 years, 4 months ago

I'm torn on this one.

On the one hand, when you realize you've made a mistake in who you've married, you should be able to get out of it.


I tend to think the standard for divorce should be a lot higher after children have entered the picture since it is no longer just about the needs of the parents. After kids, if there is a claim of "no-fault", there should be a mandatory counseling period for the couple to try and mend the relationship and/or other proofs that they have done everything they can to make things work. Getting divorced because you're "no longer compatible" is just being childish after you've had a kid. (And I do say this from a biased perspective having watched it happen to my sibling and seeing the effect it has had on their child.)

Brock Masters 4 years, 4 months ago

It is a contract and isn't one of the provisions often for better or worse? So, like any other contract one party shouldn't be able to unilaterally break it.

Best thing for everyone is for the government to get out of the marriage business.

John Graham 4 years, 4 months ago

People unilaterally break contracts everyday. When they do the injured party is due damages. Unfortunately courts have not viewed the marriage contract in the same way they do other contracts due to the no fault clause.

Greg Cooper 4 years, 4 months ago

Come on, people of Kansas, and support this bill. It is another (?) effort on the part of the ruling cabal to increase the earnings of a particular business in the State of Kansas, and is that not what the party has promised, after all?

The business is the attorney business. Just think, if there is no "no fault" divorce, then there are only "at fault" divorces, and which do you think costs more to defend or to fight? At fault, of course. So, the attorneys for both sides make more dollars relieving both parties to the divorce of their dollars. And, as a side benefit, the parties will most likely be required to pay for attending counseling, go to church and do all the other things that a pseudo-religious state can require of its citizens. How can we lose?

Perfect Neo-Republican strategy. Just perfect.

Glenda Stadley 4 years, 4 months ago

'No Fault' divorce is an easy out for those with much different reasons than irreconcilable differences, or different values. Mediation is also a joke, as expensive as it is, when one party refuses to compromise, or even communicate a word. Filing divorce in different county should also be changed to reflect residence the last 12 months prior to filing making it impossible to hide, from the judge, a previous marriage and divorce to the same spouse, which damages the family.

Addie Line 4 years, 4 months ago

Suggesting mandated counseling for couples who want to divorce is a ridiculous idea. They're adults and can make the decision on whether or not to pursue counseling on their own. It can be argued that famies staying together for the sake of the kids can be even more detrimental than divorce to children, see the 25 year longitudinal study done by Judith Wallerstein. And causing each indivual to site the others faults leading up to divorce would actually decrease their ability to successfully coparent after the divorce, considering the resentment one would naturally have after all their mistakes, wrongdoings etc were dragged through the court system. We're really going to let the courts decide that one person is at fault for a failed marriage? In any relationship it often is both individuals who contributed to the problem, aside from situations where abuse is occurring. Trying to coerce others to point fingers hoping that they'll remain in miserable relationships really crosses a line.

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