Maggie Gallagher: A Modest Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce


NOM Co-Founder Maggie Gallagher in The Public Discourse:

A new proposal for reducing unnecessary divorce gets to the heart of the problem: the current system seeks to meet a divorcing couple’s every need—except for time and education on reconciliation.

Former Georgia Chief Justice Leah Sears (on the short list for Obama appointments to the Supreme Court) and family relations scholar Professor William Doherty have teamed up to produce with what they call, without irony, a modest proposal to reduce “unnecessary divorce”: the Second Chances Act.

The Second Chances Act is a brilliant piece of work by two of the nation’s leading pro-marriage liberals. (Full disclosure: The authors kindly give me far more credit than I am due by including me in a list of people to be thanked for “contributions,” which in my case consisted of attending one meeting in which an early draft of the report and the legislation was presented.)

The Second Chances Act proposes new model legislation that includes a one-year waiting period for divorce, along with a requirement that parents of minor children considering divorce take a short online divorced parenting education course, which would include information on reconciliation. Spouses could trigger the one-year waiting period without actually filing for divorce by sending their mates a formal letter of notice. These requirements would be waived in cases of domestic violence.


  1. Posted October 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


  2. Ron Duncan
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Indeed - marriage vows are supposed to mean something. This is a step in the right direction. "No fault" divorce has ripped far too many families apart. It's like when my ex-wife chose adultery - I still wanted reconciliation, and if this had been in place - at the very least, it might have forced her to take another look. Instead, our family was ripped apart.

  3. Ash
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    This is great!

  4. Marty
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Save this link for the next time one of the usual suspects asks why NOM isn't working against divorce.

  5. YoungCatholic
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Marty - 1 in 100 items on the blog.

  6. TigerGirl
    Posted October 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Um, yes and no. I'm on the brink of my second divorce, the first was my ex-spouse had cheated - many times, and didn't see the need to change his behavior, this time - I've fallen out of love. And we've been working at it for 3 solid month, and instead of it getting better, I just find myself wanting out more and more. I disconnect more every day due to my extreme unhappiness, both with him, myself and our relationship. I think there is a reason that marital satisifaction grows at nearly the same rate as the divorce rate. Sometimes it is just needed for the mental health of all parties.

  7. Little man
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    I would also suggest giving marriages that last 5 years extra benefits, at 10 years, etc.; and those which pro-create even more. The same-sex marriage debate has shown us how little the government really supports marriage, and it is because of this that divorce has skyrocketed. It is incredibly wasteful, nad painful. People go to Las Vegas, and get married superficially. Maybe the couple got drunk and woke up "married"! :( Well, that's easy to fix, nowadays, as the article points out. Good job!

  8. Margaret Gallagher
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink


    Appreciate your honesty, if you feel like talking more email me at

    Don't know your situation, I do know much marriage counseling is not helpful, but some sorts really are!

  9. Rover Serton
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The second chance act: Is this federal or state legislation? Where is this proposal being flown?

    So, if the wife wants to speed it up, she has to have her current husband slap her?

    So many questions.

    Stopping divorce is like stopping abortion. It is always a bad thing (unless I need one, then I want it safe, legal and NOW).

  10. Doogan
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink


    This is the sort of discussion that we as a nation NEED to be having about marriage.

  11. Little man
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Rover Serton: Just read the article for yourself, and your questions are answered in it. Get real.

  12. Little man
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    TigerGirl: I'm not as knowledgeable on what to do instead of divorce. But i know that adultery is one of the justifications of divorce in Jesus' teaching (works both ways). But, i tell you one thing: once you have children in your partnership, you can get a divorce paper, but you'll always be attached voluntarily in a firm way to your ex, if you care for your child in any way. It's the people who don't care about their own child or children who caused the formation of the institution of civil marriage. Or the government wouldn't need to be involved. Thanks for your comment - totally from the heart. To lie (both meanings) is now honorable, in our society, in general.

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