A lawmaker in Fort Worth wants to make it harder to get divorced in Texas by getting rid of no-fault divorce. He's proposing a bill in the next legislative session that would make people cite a specific reason their marriage needs to end.
The idea has sparked a lot of emotional reaction because filing for divorce is a deeply personal choice. In fact, many people call the conservative lawmaker's move to step in and ban no-fault divorce a big government overreach.
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, doesn't see it that way. He says it's undoing a law that's already been on the books since the 1970s – one that he believes has helped break down the family structure.
Attorney Justin Sisemore is about to move into the high season for divorce, when couples who've stuck it out through the holidays decide they've had enough.
"You have so many situations where people need to feel like they can get out of a relationship," Sisemore said.
But Krause thinks it should be more difficult to end a marriage in Texas.
"I think you add a little bit more of the sacredness to marriage when you don't have no-fault divorce," Krause said. "It's more of a, 'What are we getting into here? It's not something we can get in or out of easily or quickly.'"
Under his proposed legislation, couples would have to cite a specific reason to get divorced. It's a process that Robin Hamlin says is already "incredibly stressful."
Hamlin, who has been divorced and works in Sisemore's office, said ending her marriage was the healthy choice for her children.
"It just dawned on me that they're not going to know what a normal, loving marriage can be because the example that's in front of them is not a good one," Hamlin said.
Sisemore argues that nothing will stop people from getting divorced once they reach that point, and he adds that even when there is clear fault, many people choose not to fight it out that way.
"For their children's sake, they don't want to run the other one through the nasty ringer," said Sisemore.
"I'm very sympathetic to that," Krause said. "That's not the intent of the bill. That's not what we're trying to do. But I think for public policy in Texas, we want to do what we can to promote and encourage strong Texas families, and I think no-fault divorce and its impact since the 1970s has worked against that."
This is the second time Krause has introduced this bill. Last session, his proposal made it out of committee and into a hearing.
This time, Krause says he's looking at ways to mitigate costs and to keep details of a divorce off the public record. Both are extra challenges with at-fault divorce. He also suggests there could be a way to codify emotional abuse, to include that as a cause under at-fault divorce.