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How California Created A Divorce Epidemic Across America

Written By : John Hawkins
April 22, 2009

I’m now reading Jack Cashill’s What’s the Matter With California and so far, it’s an entertaining and informative read.

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About 50 pages in, Cashill wrote about how California introduced the practice of no-fault divorce to the country and the tragic damage that change caused — and, yes, just for the record, I would support rewriting the laws in every state to eliminate no-fault divorce.

You’ll find this makes for intriguing reading,

As it happens, during the same year that (Charles) Manson was preparing his flock for Helter Skelter, state assemblyman Jim Hayes of Long Beach was going through a nasty divorce. To make life easier for people like himself he introduced a bill, which would result in the nation’s most progressive no-fault divorce law. Not that Californians needed much help getting divorced. Josiah Royce argued that California divorces were “far too numerous and easy.” and that was in the 1850s.

On September 4, 1969, just four weeks after the Tate-LaBianca murders, Governor Reagan — Reagan again! — signed the bill into law, an endorsement that he would later regret. “He wanted to do something to make the divorce process less acrimonious, less contentious, and less expensive,” son Michael Reagan writes of his once-divorced dad in his book Twice Adopted. He also made divorce a whole lot more available.

Marin County divorce authority Dr. Judith Wallerstein calls the bill “an upheaval akin to a cataclysmic earthquake.” “People were jubilant,” adds Wallerstein. They rejoiced in the same short sighted way the people in England did when Chamberlain brought back “peace in our time.” Only in California, they celebrated by getting divorced.

In 1970, the first full year of the no-fault law, the state registered a record 112,942 divorces, a 28 percent increase from just the year before. To put that number in perspective consider that, in 1960, there had been only 105,352 marriages in California. Population growth — 27 percent for the decade — accounts for some of the discrepancy, but the marriage/divorce ratio, no matter what the qualifiers, signaled a massive disruption in family life.

In 1970, California’s divorce rate was 60 percent higher than that of the nation as a whole, and it continued to trend upward throughout the decade. By 1980, California had registered a new record 138,361 divorces. In other words, 276,722 Californians got divorced in 1980 alone. That was more than twice as many as in 1966 and in 1966, the California divorce rate was already 50 percent higher than the national norm. In fact, the divorce rate increased four times faster than the population did in the years 1966-1980.

Only Oklahoma had no-fault divorce before California, and no one paid attention to Oklahoma. A national lawyers group, the self-designated Uniform Law Commission, quickly composed a model no-fault law based on California’s, and by 1985, just about every other state in the union had adopted it in one form or another, with predictable results. By 1980, the nation’s divorce rate was higher than California’s was in 1969.

By 1980, embarrassed by the divorce plague in their midst, California lawmakers implemented a quick fix of world class caliber: they would no longer keep or publish statistics.”

If you’d like to see statistics on the impact that divorce has on American society, I’d suggest reading Ann Coulter On Single Mothers: The Statistics From Guilty.

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