Why the Parental Divorce Reduction Act

Written by Chris Gersten


I am often asked why the Coalition for Divorce Reform is supporting the Parental Divorce Reduction Act (“PDRA”) and not other forms of divorce reform.  Some  want to try to change our no-fault divorce laws;  others want to alter the terms of custody  arrangements..   Some want to pursue what they call “comprehensive divorce reform” whatever that means.  But our approach is unique and is designed to pass state legislatures.

First, some background  on the basic principles of the PDRA.  The PDRA is designed to reduce unnecessary divorce where minor children are involved.  Approximately two-thirds of all divorces involve low-conflict marriages.  These are marriages where one spouse or both spouses feel frustrated or bored, can’t communicate effectively with his/her spouse, or feel the romance has left the relationship  and  that life would be better by divorcing.

Our current marriage laws have made it easier in the US than in any other industrial nation to get out of such a marriage.  One spouse only needs to simply state under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken and, except for dividing up the property and the children, that’s pretty much the end of the discussion.  Many of these divorces, however, need not happen.  Research shows that at least one in three divorcing people are open to reconciliation.  The PDRA provides the mechanics for finding them, and giving them the tools they need to work on saving their marriage.  If there is physical violence in the relationship, the victim will not be required to participate in this process.

We are not trying to change the fundamental structure of America’s no-fault divorce laws or change the custody laws.  That is not our mission.  Our mission is to pursue legislation that has a real world chance of passing state legislatures around the nation and reducing divorce.  And the PDRA is it.   I have talked to state legislators in a dozen states and they agree that we have crafted a piece of legislation that they can run with.  Our nation’s families are in trouble and quick effective action is what we need.

Working with a dozen leading divorce reform leaders, lawyers, domestic violence experts and marriage educators, we drafted a realistic piece of legislation to slow down the divorce procedure, educate divorcing couples about the effect of divorce on the lives of children, require participation in at least six hours of marriage education for couples in crisis, and then wait eight months before they can file for divorce.

During this eight month period, couples will be provided with information about a host of additional resources they can use to work on their relationships if they so chose.

These four different requirements will reduce unnecessary divorce.

How many marriages can be saved we can only predict.  I believe that any state that passes the PDRA and effectively administers the requirements of the law will see a minimum drop of 30% of parental divorces a year within five years of passage of the legislation.  Marriage education has a track record of success, and studies already show some couples are interested in reconciliation advice.  But only time will tell.  After the PDRA becomes law, it may require fine tuning and improvements, like any law.  But we will see a drop in unnecessary divorces in one state after another.

There are a million children who are victims of divorce in our nation every single year; forty million since we passed divorce laws making it easier to get a divorce than a driver’s license.  The PDRA does not try to fix every problem with our divorce laws.   But the PDRA is a realistic attempt to slow down unnecessary divorces and save many of the million children a year from the tragedy of divorce.

We are in a political climate that is not predisposed to divorce reform.  There has been no significant movement for divorce reform since no-fault became the law of the land forty years ago.  State legislators are focused on other issues and the public has not been educated properly about the impact of divorce on children, on the divorcing couple or the taxpayers.

We are starting from square one with a modest but realistic approach which can generate support on both sides of the political aisle and actually become law.

Post By divo4776 (62 Posts)



  1. Ken Adams says

    I’m concerned about creating another group of people who make their living off of divorce and adding to the cost. Plus, there is an additional concern that the counselors will get paid whether they get results or not.
    For what it’s worth, I would suggest is that PDRA should have a trial period of perhaps five years. At that time if the counselors are not saving … say one out of four marriages then the law is terminated without legislative action. If one out of four marriages are saved then the law gets five more years. In this way the counselors will have an incentive to provide results.
    Since you are predicting a 30% drop in divorce in five years then the trail period should be of no consequence to the law. But, it would prevent the law, which adds cost to the process, to remain in place if it for whatever reason fails to work.
    Also, can you tell me want studies are showing that mandatory counseling can work? Has something like been tried someplace else and what were the results?

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