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42 Fam. Advoc. 16 (2019)


Folk wisdom has it that the family that prays together stays together. Empirical studies bear this out—couples who share an intensity of religious faith, even though not necessarily of the same faith tradition, do tend to marry in the first place rather than cohabit, have more stable marriages, have children, stay together longer even in troubled relationships, and be more likely to wait for divorce until any children are adults.

Despite this rosy picture, some religious couples do divorce, and these breakups are more fault-driven and acrimonious, even with no-fault divorce available, than those of their nonreligious peers. That is, religious couples are more likely to use fault grounds in the states where they are available, to make more motions, to litigate rather than settle disputes, and to continue their acrimony with post-order motions. And the vast majority of the conflicts involve minor children, and specifically parenting time (custody and visitation). Of course, post-divorce conflict centered on children and seemingly oblivious to their needs is not a new phenomenon; it has been the subject of novels (and later, films) at least since the nineteenth century. While psychologists and counselors are united in their disfavor of parental conflict in front of or involving children, anyone in family practice has seen seemingly sane and thoughtful people engage in exactly this kind of destructive behavior post-breakup.



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