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Two recent and very powerful studies about the state of marriage in America offer irrefutable proof that marriage in America is in decline.

A study by the Pew Charitable Trust, and another entitled the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, offer clear proof that marriage is in decline in America, particularly among the middle class and in the African-American community.  

Given the importance of [Link Removed] as a stabilizing factor in America throughout our two and one-half centuries of existence as a nation – the glue to social order if you will – such declines in marriage should be of immense concern to all of us.

So, the most important question of the day is, why?  Why is marriage in decline in the USA?  

We have reflected on this issue recently after hearing the stories of others whom we have interviewed about the topic.  We have concluded that the legal profession has a lot to do with the decline of marriage in the USA.  

Think about this.  The American legal profession is increasingly a "player" in marriage and divorce in this country.  And as we muse about all this we have become more and more convinced that our legal system has, and perhaps unwittingly, contributed to the decline of marriage in America.

We have all seen the crass television commercials promoting legal services to men who want to keep "THEIR" money at the expense of their soon-to-be ex-wives and children.  More depressing is our constant bombardment of horror stories about women who have spent their last dime trying to fight rich and powerful husbands for years in divorce court.  It isn't supposed to be this way.

While the legal system in divorce proceedings is principally designed to protect children and the mothers who have contributed mightily to the success of a husband throughout the course of a marriage, the lawyers have twisted it for financial gain, increasingly so in recent years.

When we interviewed several divorced women we heard poignant and compelling stories about how they sacrificed their own education so that they could support their husband's career.  They reported how they single-handedly raised their children while their husbands were in medical school, law school, or preparing for some other advanced academic degree.  Unfortunately, their self-centered and narcissistic ex-husbands denied that their successes in life had anything to do with the sacrifices or contributions of their wife and their children.  

Therein lies the problem – men who think that all accumulated material wealth in a marriage is theirs!  When the marriage starts to dissolve and one or the other files for divorce, the men suddenly proclaim that they are not responsible for child support or for spousal support.

Many of the women we have interviewed tell us that judges will often order the fair and equitable division of the family assets according to the laws of the state they reside in, the ex-husband will agree in writing, but often ends up appealing the decision to a higher court so that he does not have to share the family assets – the assets he considers his OWN!  It goes on and on.  And it isn't fair!

There is something terribly wrong with this picture!  But there is more.

Often times, judges will order child support and spousal maintenance only to have the ex-husband and his band of lawyers renege on the commitment.  In most all states a husband is NOT allowed to unilaterally and arbitrarily decide to stop or withhold child and spousal support payments.  Yet, many do and oftentimes, the judges let them get by with it!  Sometimes, the judges will not support the very orders they delivered from the bench!  How shameful is that?

Here is the point of all this – whatever happened to justice? Why do women and their children suffer unnecessarily in a court system that is designed to protect them?  Why do the courts not support the level playing field they are obligated to support?  

All of this discussion brings us back to our main question – are lawyers and the American legal system responsible, even partly so, for the decline of marriage in America?  Our answer is, YES!  Here's why.

It is our thesis that many people are, indeed, avoiding marriage for a myriad of reasons too numerous to mention.  However, one of the main reasons people are avoiding marriage is their fear of failing at marriage. Their fear of being forced to deal with the suffering and unfairness they might face in a corrupt legal system that cares little about them and so much more about protecting the powerful, the abusive, and the selfish.

The divorce laws in most states are designed to protect the children of marriage.  They are designed to protect the women who make enormous contributions to a marriage.  But why are those same women later denied those things for which they are entitled from that marriage as a result of spurious legal proceedings.

When you think about it, is it little wonder so many people are avoiding marriage?  It seems clear to us that many fear the legal system they will face if their marriage doesn't work out.  The legal system seems increasingly hostile to women and children.  The dangers of this are certainly something to be concerned about.  Expect more from us on this topic.

By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jeral Gainous wrote Feb 4, 2012
    • I love this information. Thanksestatic

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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Tuliplady wrote Feb 4, 2012
    • I don’t think it’s the legal system making people avoid marriage near as much as the social security system and the welfare system.

      I knew a lovely elderly couple who had been together ten years or so.  They could not marry. One of them would have lost their social security benefits, and they could not afford to live on one income.

      Young people aren’t getting married when the girl gets pregnant like they did in the old days.  Why?  Because if she stays single, we the taxpayers foot the bill for that baby. And so these young people aren’t getting married, or it they do, it’s after they’ve got two and three kids.

      I’m really, really sick and tired about hearing about men who won’t support their ex wife and kids.  Most of the divorced men I know are driving abeat up old car, working two job and eating a steady diet of cold baloney sandwiches because their ex wife is bleeding them dry.  If that ex wife wants money she should get off her lazy ass and get a job!!!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      MaryAnne Carrier-Harrison wrote Feb 5, 2012
    • Tulip-I agree with you... I have seen so many men paying for their children(which they should)and ex wife who wont get a job.. I was the one who made the money and my ex sat on his ass.. So when I kicked him to the curb he had to get a job...but we are currently going through the court system to have him pay child support.. He was under the impression that because I paid for everything when we were together that I would have to continue to do so..These people make me sick..
      Granted their are dead beat dads and mothers out there..
      But dear God how do the lazy ex’s get away with all the crap they put us through..

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Feb 6, 2012
    • Well I agree with most of what was commented on. However when I divorced I had to fight to get him to pay what he did. I didn’t want the money so I could stay home. I worked full time plus. I wanted him to pay because he helped bring them in the world and it was his responsibility. Period!

      Now I do believe the are bloodsucking women out there. But I’m herding more and more about bloodsucking men. And now they have lawyers that specialize in helping men with divorce. Helping them what? Get out of paying according to my friends divorce!!!

      I really think there is a lot of money in divorce and that’s one of the reasons why the rate is high.

      Now if they made it harder to get married and even harder to divorce things could change.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Chris73 wrote Feb 7, 2012
    • I can’t say I agree with this at all. I think divorce rates are high because it’s kind of easy for any of us to just bale out, there are no real consequences to not trying to make it work or having an affair or what other issues that may arise that make a couple decide to split. Yes the end result of lawyers sucks and because of that I think more couples stay together in a business like arrangement because divorce is expensive, being a single parent is hard emotionally, mentally and financially. The way the economy is right now makes divorce very difficult if not impossible for some. I think the reason divorce is so abundant this day in age is because people think marriage is disposable, if it’s “Just not right” then its ok to throw your family away because you think the grass is greener elsewhere. Our views towards marriage has changed. The reason more women are staying single is because they rather pursue a career in the earlier part of there life and are more career focused. Women realize they do not need a man or children to define who they are. There are a lot of women who are perfectly happy being single and there is now no shame in being single or being a single parent. As for the men well they don’t have to marry with so many women willing to give them what they want without the paper why settle down. Unfortunately marriage seems to have lost it’s appeal and value over the years, at least for a good portion of us. If there is any other reason that people are discourage from getting married maybe it’s because they think they will fail at it or for them it’s just no necessary.

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