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Is a Kansas lawmaker proposing the end of no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce has and will continue to be the legal mechanism of choice for thousands of people across the U.S., including right here in Minnesota. However, while there is a pretty good chance that you've heard this term before, there is also a pretty good chance that you might not be familiar with its specifics.

To summarize, a no-fault divorce does not require that the spouse seeking to dissolve the marriage to prove any specific grounds such as adultery, abuse or abandonment, and does not require the consent of the other spouse.

While no-fault divorce has been firmly entrenched in the U.S. legal system for several decades now, a Kansas lawmaker is perhaps looking to change this via proposed legislation. 

State Rep. John Bradford (R-Lansing) recently authored legislation that he said is not designed to eliminate no-fault divorces, but rather to make it harder for couples to end their marriages.

Specifically, he argues that his legislation -- which was introduced by a ranking member of Kansas' House Judiciary Committee -- would still allow couples to divorce due to no fault and simply remove "incompatibility" as a reason for a divorce (something he identifies as being entirely different from no-fault).

Here, the bill would substitute eight reasons in place of incompatibility, including adultery, abandonment of the home for one year, failure to perform "marital duty or obligation," felony convictions, living separately, mental illness, or physical/sexual abuse.

It is worth noting that despite Bradford's contention that the bill would not end no-fault divorce, his website would perhaps indicate otherwise.

"Elimination of 'No Fault Divorce' - John has submitted a bill for the 2014 legislative session to eliminate 'incompatibility' as grounds for divorce," reads the site. "This effectively ends what we know as 'no fault divorce.'"

Bradford has since indicated that the wording on the site is incorrect and attributed it to an error by a website designer that has yet to be addressed.

Opponents have already emerged, however, arguing that the bill is indeed tantamount to the elimination of no-fault divorce and would have lasting consequences.

For instance, they assert that it would result in more bitter divorce battles (i.e., prolonged litigation) and seriously jeopardize the ability of divorced couples to maintain civil relationships for the benefit of their children.

Stay tuned for updates ...  

Consider consulting with an experienced attorney if you would like to learn more about your options and your rights concerning divorce, or divorce-related issues like child custody or child support.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Proposed legislation's author addresses wording of divorce bill," Feb. 8, 2014; The Wichita Eagle, " Kansas bill would eliminate 'no-fault' divorces,'" Brian Lowry, Feb. 7, 2014

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