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The Controversy Over No Fault Divorce

By Hannah Van Roekel

In the 1970’s, most states in the nation adopted “no fault” divorce statutes, also known as the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (“UDMA”). The purpose of the UDMA was to give individuals more freedom to decide how to end their marriage and to make the dissolution of marriage process more equitable for both parties. However, many hold the belief that the policy has directly contributed to the substance increase of divorce in this country. In an effort to diminish the ease of access to divorce and its increasing occurrence, many states incorporated waiting periods for couples seeking a divorce.

Presently in Colorado, the statute requires a 91-day waiting period after filing the initial petition for dissolution before a couple is able to obtain a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.

In an effort to reduce the occurrence of divorce, some legislators and states have opted for longer waiting periods or other requirements. Some states have considered pre-marital education classes with incentives (e.g., the cost of a marriage license would be reduced with voluntarily attendance), intensive mandatory counseling after a couple files for divorce, requiring couples with children to make and submit parenting plans, or no fault divorce only with mutual consent. Although divorce reform and increased requirements associated with these legislative initiates have failed, the debate on divorce will likely continue.

In the end, it remains unclear to what extent no fault divorce reform will have on the divorce rate, or whether the divorce rate is an area for concern in the country. Certainly, the increase in divorce is much more complex than the mere removal of a legal impediment, and the UDMA has made no-fault divorce much more accessible and widely available to many individuals in need of such relief.

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