Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taxpayers Cost of Divorce

Yesterday I got to do something special. I went to the National Press Club for a press conference announcing the results of a new study "Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Mothers".

The room wasn't overly large and there were probably 50 to 75 people attending. What I find interesting is to see the report splattered all over various news web sites, after attending the actual announcement.

The key conclusion of the report is that divorce and unwed motherhood costs the U.S. taxpayers a mininum of $112 billion dollars per year. The point was in addition to the human suffering caused by divorce and children out of wedlock, and moral concerns, there is also a large economic price tag.

What was encouraging was to hear just some of the snippets of what is being done around the country.

Another thing I learned about was that there is a new website (www.reformdivorce.com) dedicated to reforming divorce laws. What we have in this country is unilateral divorce where one partner is able to force the issue to get out of a marriage where both had to agree to enter it in the first place. I heard someone say once that it is easier to get out of a marriage in this country than to get out of a car lease early.

For more info on both the cost of divorce and divorce reform see www.divorcereform.com.

Monday, April 14, 2008

More Resources/Help Available

I just spent probably less than half an hour reading through an email sent from Smart Marriages about various resources. (www.smartmarriages.com)

In that short amount of time, I came across Marriage Resources for Clergy. They are sermons, music, and more specifically geared to help pastors promote marriage.

I saw the Marriage Co-mission, a group formed by the founders of Chik-Fil-A that is designed to help community marriage initiatives.

Also, I learned more about the Family Formation Project which is a joint effort of the government and the University of Minnesota to help promote marriage between unwed parents.
If you want help in marriage or in supporting marriages, there are lots of resources fairly quick to find.

It is also encouraging to see the government supporting the value of marriage which is very important to the faith community. It is always interesting when the government gets behind values that have been in the Bible all along. Gives me some hope for this country.

See my Community Marriage Resources section for links to all of these.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Line of Reconciliation

One very helpful concept that I heard in Divorce Care, shared by Dr. Jim Talley, was the concept of "The Line of Reconciliation." He compared marriage to a highway. Each partner in marriage is on their side of the highway, and even in a good marriage they move towards and away from one another at the center line. In a divorce situation, one partner decides to stay far away from the line of reconciliation.

The hope Dr. Talley gives is that almost always, even the partner who wanted a divorce, will at some point in time come back to the line of reconciliation. They will at least be open to thinking if a reconciliation is possible or even desiring reconciliation. The key is that the partner who did not want a divorce needs to always be open to reconciliation, and not be off dating or whatever because they might miss their golden opportunity to reconcile. I think the longest Dr. Talley had seen someone hold the line was a 12-year divorce before reconciliation.

I am thankful that during our 16 month separation, I stayed at the line of reconciliation. Actually it was more like I chased after her in the ditch on her side of the road. She wasn't very successful at getting rid of me. :-)

See also Reconcilable Differences by Dr. Jim Talley and www.divorcecare.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Stemming the Tide of Divorce

Sometimes, as I hear another story about a divorce, or read another statistic about divorce, or see more anti-marriage articles, I get discouraged. I wonder what to say, and how to say it, to help people have hope for their marriages. I can point to many helpful resources, but one-by-one, people have to decide to drive a stake in the ground that they are going to go all out to save their marriage.

Often, I don't know how to inspire that kind of desire. I can share our testimony, I can share resources, I can share statistics, but each person has to hold onto their own marriage. Hopefully, as many of us become more articulate about our own healed marriages, available resources, and negative consequences of divorce, more people will chose to stay married. Regardless of what others do, I want to continue to persist to have a more and more fulfilling marriage. As I do, I hope to be an inspiration for one couple at a time to hold on to theirs.

Monday, April 7, 2008

An Attorney Who Slows Down

One resource I would really like to find would be an attorney who is willing to judiciously use the law to slow down divorce proceedings as long as possible, and to use all of his finesse to compel reconciliation. My hunch is that, in general, once a divorce petition is filed, or even threatened, there is alot of pressure to settle even if you don't want a divorce. It seems to me there could be reasonable ways to use the law to make the partner wanting out have to work very hard to get a divorce and to spend alot of time reflecting about it.

My wife and I never got into the court system. My strategy was sort of like the MAD strategy we used to have with Russia (i.e. Mutually Assured Destruction). Because I had told her so emphatically that I would not sign any voluntary dissolution, she knew her only way out was to pursue a full blown divorce action. That is totally unpredictable in financial cost, but my hope was that she would come to her senses before we both became bankrupt. But, thankfully we reconciled before any papers were filed.