The divorce rate for the United States continues to hover at around 50 percent of all marriages, meaning one out of every two couples who wed will eventually get divorced. Claiming that he wants to see that rate go down, at least in Utah, one legislator is proposing a new hurdle to stop couples before they end their marriages. However, while proposing his plan, he also lets us in on his own personal belief about who is responsible when it comes to divorce, and unsurprisingly, he believes it is often the wife’s fault.
Utah state Rep. Jim Nielson would like to make people think about the act of divorcing just a little bit more before they jump right into it, because apparently he believes ending a marriage is something many people just do on a whim. Or, more specifically, something that wives do, since all of the men he knows claims they had no idea their marriages were in trouble. To fix this, he is prepared to make those considering divorce start class sooner yes, sooner, because taking a class to get a divorce is already a requirement in the state.
According to Nielson, by the time the couples are forced to take the two hour long, $55 dollar class prior to finalizing the divorce, they are already so far along in the process that they aren’t likely to change their minds. Mandating that the class be taken at least in part before any financial or custodial arrangements can be finalized, Nielson hopes that it will make couples “rethink” their decision before it’s too late, especially if they have children.
At least, that’s what he told the Associated Press. His justification to a more targeted audience, one of fathers going through or who went through a divorce, was a much more tweaked argument, where he placed the blame for divorce almost squarely on the backs of soon to be ex-wives.
“The friends that I have that have gone through a divorce, most of the people that I know personally that have gone through that personally are men,” Nielson explained to host Matt Allen, according to Raw Story. ”And my sense, at least from the men that I interact with, is that they’ve usually been surprised by the divorce request, by the filing….[I]f I’m correct that more of the filers are women than men and that’s based on just anecdotal information then I think what this course does, which basically mandates that before you file, the filer has to take this course. That individual often a woman will be aware of alternatives, will be aware of the impact, will be aware of the consequences and know what the process will be to his or her family.”
Would it be reasonable to have a class earlier rather than later in the divorce proceedings, if such as class already exists under law? Maybe. But the reasoning used by Nielson makes two things clear when it comes to divorce: 1) by saying men are often “surprised” when papers are filed against them, he implies that it is women somehow frivolously and unthinkingly ending these marriages, and for no real reason whatsoever; and 2) that sitting women down and talking to them about other options and how they are impacting their families and especially their children would make them give up and remain married.
We’ve already seen this sort of mindset enacted with informed consent bills over abortion, where scripts, pictures and waiting periods are mandated for a pregnant person because she is obviously too emotional and not knowledgeable enough to understand the consequences of her actions. That this belief system is so obviously leaking over into other areas is sadly not shocking in the least.
Nielson obviously believes a large portion of divorces are initiated by women who thoughtlessly or selfishly break up a family, and that roadblocks need to be in place to make her rethink the consequences of her actions. Today, that mindset is likely to change a law in Utah. Tomorrow, it could be occurring in your state instead.
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