Washington is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that couples can get divorced without having to prove that either the husband or wife was to blame for the failed relationship. Across the country, most states have had similar laws for the past four or five decades that allow spouses to divorce without finger-pointing and proving wrongdoing. However, recently, some states have been considering reintroducing older laws that require couples to have a reason to divorce, such as abuse or adultery.
However, a study conducted by Stanford University researchers showed that the advent of no-fault divorce laws across the country actually saved lives: in states with new, no-fault divorce laws, domestic abuse fell from between 10 and 25 percent, while domestic abuse murders fell by 10 percent. In addition, female suicide rates dropped by 20 percent in no-fault divorce states.
Why does no-fault divorce save lives and prevent abuse? Researchers believe that giving couples easier access to divorce allows them to escape abusive and dangerous relationships. In divorce where fault must be proven, men and women would have to provide solid evidence to a judge that their spouse was abusing them or cheating on them. This would be especially difficult for abuse victims who did not have access to legal help or the finances to fight for a divorce.
While some lawmakers believe that eliminating no-fault divorce laws could lower the current divorce rates, others believe that making a divorce harder to procure isn’t the best way to save marriages. In fact, making divorce more difficult and expensive may simply lead to fewer marriages.
For more information on this, or for help with your own Washington state divorce, contact Molly B. Kenny today.