THE RUGGED INDIVIDUALIST                     

Marriage And Divorce

Marriage doesn't mean what it used to. Our culture has been changing over the last 60 years. The broken home is no longer the exception but the rule. America has had generation after generation of broken homes. Lots of arguments and facts can be brought up to show this is bad for America. With good reason, when you come from a broken home your relationship with your father is not the same. In a divorce your father is openly badmouthed and disrespected. You can be a rugged individual without a good father. But having a good father helps create a rugged individualist. With good fathers, daughters grow up with self-esteem and  self-respect. Sons grow up to be responsible  with honor and integrity. It is obvious that the policies of our government are anti-family. The Family Court system is in the business of redistributing wealth. "The best interest of the child" often means lawyers becoming rich, kids losing their childhood and father becoming the"bad guy" It has become a cliché how unfair the Family Court system is for fathers.
It is no wonder marriage is on the decline. Why would a man want to get married. At any moment he can be kicked out of his own house, restricted from his own kids, and lose half of his possessions. Marriage used to mean a lifelong commitment. Now not so much so.
Billions of subsidies go to broken families. I know the arguments, if people didn't have the government to fall back on  they might stay in unhappy relationships. While this may be true, if there were not government to fall back on, people may make better decisions in who they choose to have relationships with
The rugged individualists position on marriage is simple. It's not the government job. Relationships and marriage are the individuals choice. And if the individual chooses to get married it is the individuals religious and personal preferences that should determine the marriage contract. A social contract custom-made by the participating individuals. Not big government telling you what marriage entails.

The Effects of Divorce on America

Published on June 5, 2000 by Patrick Fagan, Ph.D. and Robert Rector

Each year, over 1 million American children suffer the divorce of their parents; moreover, half of the children born this year to parents who are married will see their parents divorce before they turn 18. Mounting evidence in social science journals demonstrates that the devastating physical, emotional, and financial effects that divorce is having on these children will last well into adulthood and affect future generations. Among these broad and damaging effects are the following:

·         Children whose parents have divorced are increasingly the victims of abuse. They exhibit more health, behavioral, and emotional problems, are involved more frequently in and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide.

·         Children of divorced parents perform more poorly in reading, spelling, and math. They also are more likely to repeat a grade and to have higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college graduation.

·         Families with children that were not poor before the divorce see their income drop as much as 50 percent. Almost 50 percent of the parents with children that are going through a divorce move into poverty after the divorce.

  • Religious worship, which has been linked to better health, longer marriages, and better Family life, drops after the parents divorce.

The divorce of parents, even if it is amicable, tears apart the fundamental unit of American society. Today, according to the Federal Reserve Board's 1995 Survey of Consumer Finance, only 42 percent of children aged 14 to 18 live in a "first marriage" family--an intact two-parent married family. It should be no surprise to find that divorce is having such profound effects on society.

Restoring the importance of marriage to society and the welfare of children will require politicians and civic leaders to make this one of their most important tasks. It also will require a modest commitment of resources to pro-marriage programs. Fiscal conservatives should realize that federal and state governments spend $150 billion per year to subsidize and sustain single-parent families. By contrast, only $150 million is spent to strengthen marriage. Thus, for every $1,000 spent to deal with the effects of Family disintegration, only $1 is spent to prevent that disintegration. Refocusing funds to preserve marriage by reducing divorce and illegitimacy not only will be good for children and society, but in the long run will save money.

Among its efforts, the federal government should:

·         Establish, by resolution, a national goal of reducing divorce among families with children by one-third over the next decade.

·         Establish pro-marriage demonstration programs by diverting sufficient funds from existing federal social programs into programs that provide training in marriage skills.

·         Mandate that surplus welfare funds be used to strengthen marriages and slow the increase in Family disintegration.

·         Rebuild the federal-state system for gathering statistics on marriage and divorce, which ended in 1993. Without such data, the nation cannot assess the true impact of divorce on the Family, the schools, the community, and the taxpayer.

·         Create a public health campaign to inform Americans of the risks associated with divorce and of the long-term benefits of marriage.

  • Give a one-time tax credit to always-married couples when their youngest children reach 18. This small reward for committing one's marriage to nurturing the next generation into adulthood would help to offset the current marriage penalty in the tax code.

State laws govern marriage. Among their efforts, the states should:

·         Establish a goal to reduce the divorce rate among parents with children by one-third over the next decade and establish pro-marriage education and mentoring programs to teach couples how to develop skills to handle conflict and enhance the marital relationship.

·         Require married couples with minor children to complete divorce education and a mediated co-partnering plan before filing for divorce.

·         Promote community-wide marriage programs for couples planning to get married and marriage-mentoring programs for couples in troubled marriages.

·         End "no-fault" divorce for parents with children under age 18, requiring them to prove that grave harm will be visited upon the children by having the marriage continue.

  • Make the Covenant marriage option available to engaged couples as a way to bind them to a marriage contract that lengthens the process for obtaining of a divorce by two years.

If the Family is the building block of society, then marriage is the foundation of the family. However, this foundation is growing weaker, with fewer adults entering into marriage, more adults leaving it in divorce, and more and more adults eschewing it altogether for single parenthood or cohabitation.

American society, through its institutions, must teach core principles: that marriage is the best environment in which to raise healthy, happy children who can achieve their potential and that the Family is the most important institution for social well-being. To set about the task of rebuilding a culture of Family based on marriage and providing it with all the protections and supports necessary to make intact marriages commonplace, federal, state, and local officials must have the will to act.

Patrick F. Fagan is William H. G. FitzGerald Senior Fellow in Family and Cultural Issues and Robert E. Rector is Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation

Four in 10 Americans say Marriage is Becoming Obsolete

Associated Press

As families gather for Thanksgiving this year, nearly one in three American children is living with a parent who is divorced, separated or never-married. More people are accepting the view that wedding bells aren't needed to have a family.

A study by the Pew Research Center highlights rapidly changing notions of the American family. And the Census Bureau, too, is planning to incorporate broader definitions of family when measuring poverty, a shift caused partly by jumps in unmarried couples living together.

About 29 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married, a fivefold increase from 1960, according to the Pew report being released Thursday. Broken down further, about 15 percent have parents who are divorced or separated and 14 percent who were never married. Within those two groups, a sizable chunk - 6 percent - have parents who are live-in couples who opted to raise kids together without getting married.

Indeed, about 39 percent of Americans said marriage was becoming obsolete. And that sentiment follows U.S. census data released in September that showed marriages hit an all-time low of 52 percent for adults 18 and over.

In 1978, just 28 percent believed marriage was becoming obsolete.

When asked what constitutes a family, the vast majority of Americans agree that a married couple, with or without children, fits that description. But four of five surveyed pointed also to an unmarried, opposite-sex couple with children or a single parent. Three of 5 people said a same-sex couple with children was a family.

"Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn't dominate family life like it used to," said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University. "Now there are several ways to have a successful family life, and more people accept them."

The broadening views of family are expected to have an impact at Thanksgiving. About nine in 10 Americans say they will share a Thanksgiving meal next week with family, sitting at a table with 12 people on average. About one-fourth of respondents said there will be 20 or more family members.

"More Americans are living in these new families, so it seems safe to assume that there will be more of them around the Thanksgiving dinner table," said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.

The changing views of family are being driven largely by young adults, 18 to 29, who are more likely than older generations to have an unmarried or divorced parent or have friends who do. Young adults also tend to have more liberal attitudes when it comes to spousal roles and living together before marriage, the survey found.

But economic factors, too, are playing a role. The Census Bureau recently reported that opposite-sex unmarried couples living together jumped 13 percent this year to 7.5 million. It was a sharp one-year increase that analysts largely attributed to people unwilling to make long-term marriage commitments in the face of persistent unemployment.

Beginning next year, the Census Bureau will publish new, supplemental poverty figures that move away from the traditional concept of family as a husband and wife with two children. It will broaden the definition to include unmarried couples, such as same-sex partners, as well as foster children who are not related by blood or adoption.

Officials say such a move will reduce the number of families and children who are considered poor based on the new supplemental measure, which will be used as a guide for federal and state agencies to set anti-poverty policies. That's because two unmarried partners who live together with children and work are currently not counted by census as a single "family" with higher pooled incomes, but are officially defined as two separate units - one being a single parent and child, the other a single person - who aren't sharing household resources.

"People are rethinking what family means," Cherlin said. "Given the growth, I think we need to accept cohabitation relationships as a basis for some of the fringe benefits offered to families, such as health insurance."

Still, the study indicates marriage isn't going to disappear anytime soon. Despite a growing view that marriage may not be necessary, 67 percent of Americans were upbeat about the future of marriage and family. That's higher than their optimism for the nation's educational system (50 percent), economy (46 percent) or its morals and ethics (41 percent).

And about half of all unmarried adults, 46 percent, say they want to get married. Among those unmarried who are living with a partner, the share rises to 64 percent