Faculty Scholarship

Article Title

Marriage is the Best Measure of Society's Commitment to Child Well-being


Marriage, children, divorce, commitment, child wellbeing

Document Type



All marriages have some good days and some bad days, some ups and some downs. But divorce always is painful and detrimental, especially to children of divorcing parents. Research in American using a large national sample found that 86% of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage, were happier when interviewed five years later. Indeed, 60% of the formerly unhappily married rated their marriages as either “very happy” or “quite happy”. Certainly, some marriages are disastrous, and some persons (including some married adults and their children) are better off after divorce than during a toxic marriage. But the common reflection on divorce is, as a divorced neighbor once told my wife: “If I had known then what I know now, I never would have gotten divorced.” That reflection is a sober warning. To ignore it is to neglect and consign to decades of sorrow struggling couples (and families) who might, with some compassionate support, encouragement and training work through their difficulties and develop the skills needed to create and maintain happy and successful marriages.

As Nelson Mandela said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” It is clear that the safest, best environment we can provide for children is a family founded on parental marriage. That is a goal worthy of the best of legal scholarship and of the best the legal profession can offer.

General Notes

Paper presented at the International Society of Family Law Colloquium on Parents and Children: A Comparative and International Perspective in Notre Dame London Center in London, England, UK


Int’l Soc’y Fam. L. Colloquium, Marriage is the Best Measure of Society's Commitment to Child Well-Being

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