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Second chances for divorcing couples

A recent report from the Institute for American Values has offered concrete recommendations aimed at policy makers for modest ways to reduce unnecessary divorce.


The report, entitled 'Second Chances: A Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce' describes two widespread misconceptions that currently exist when it comes to divorce. First, the majority of divorces happen after many years of conflict and misery, and secondly, that once a couple files for divorce, they don’t consider the idea of reconciling. The report claims that both of these popular notions are in fact wrong.


Second Chances builds upon a growing body of scholarly research that suggest most couples who divorce are actually very similar to couples who stay married. Research over the past decade has shown that a majority of divorced couples actually report average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years prior to the divorce.


New research now shows that about 40% of U.S. couples already well into the divorce process say that one or both of them are interested in the possibility of reconciliation. This finding is significant as it indicates that there is a major new opportunity to help millions of American families—saving couples, and their children, from the pain and anguish of an unnecessary divorce.


Based on their research, the authors have proposed a Second Chances Act for U.S. State Legislatures to consider, which would provide married couples who are thinking about divorce the time and educational resources necessary to make reconciliation a viable option. The Act would extend the waiting period for divorce to at least one year, and require divorcing parents with young children to attend an education module on reconciliation.



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