. Point-and-Click Divorce
ing sex outside marriage) in order to dissolve the marriage. The growth of low-cost legal clinics and the overabundance of lawyers have made divorce cheaper and thus more accessible (see the accompanying Sex in Real Life, “Point-and-Click Divorce”). Additionally, the more equitable distribution of marital assets has made some people less apprehensive about losing everything to their spouses.
As we discussed earlier in this chapter, a few states have recently passed laws allowing people to choose a new type of marriage—a covenant marriage. Because a covenant marriage involves premarital counseling and makes divorce more difficult even if the couple decides later they want one (Wardle, 1999), couples who choose them tend to be more conservative, religious, and have stronger gender-role ideologies than those who choose a traditional marriage (A. J. Hawkins et al., 2002). When people were asked whether they would consider a covenant marriage for themselves, over two-fifths of people said they would (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2000a).
In recent years, divorce has become generally more acceptable in American society. Although 30 or 40 years ago it was very difficult for a divorced person to attain high political office, Ronald Reagan’s divorce was not even an issue in his presidential campaign. Also, many religious groups are less opposed to divorce than they used to be; many Catholic parishes, for example, no longer ostracize parishioners who divorce (Benokraitis, 1993).