We need to institute a tiered marriage system like Rome had:
1. “Covenant Marriage”–Marriage for life dissoluble only by traditional, fault-only divorce–traditional faults being adultery, abandonment, failure to provide sex etc. If there are any kids at divorce the most financially sound partner gets custody. The standard of proof for fault would have to be high, something like “clear and convincing evidence” in Criminal Law.
This type of marriage would include a dowry or bride price presented up front as part of the Wedding Ceremony. This the wife herself could provide(an excellent option for a woman who has worked and wants to stay home, saving up her own dowry), or her family or the husband. This would be maintained in a legally untouchable account separate from any marital monies as damages. In the alternative damages for divorce could be stipulated in a contract prior to marriage, like a prenup. This would give men hand in marriage by HOLDING OUT for a type of marriage designed as more beneficial to him.
2. Plain Marriage–No-fault divorce available at will, no alimony, no money or benefit to the abandoning spouse at all except the splitting of jointly owned property. Both parties walk away free and clear. Couples could convert to “covenant marriage” by choice at any time by contract.
3. Cohabitation–This would have no legal recognition at all. No enforcement of any monetary claims that aren’t backed with a contract. No common law marriage.
The state would have no role in these marriages other than presiding over their dissolution like a contract dispute. The marriage contract itself would BE the marriage, irrespective of the officiant. The marriage contract would be registered with the Municipal Court like a will and serve as evidence of the marriage.
Here’s the rub:
Upon the BIRTH (not conception) of a child the parents’ relationship would convert to a covenant marriage (UPON MANDATORY PATERNITY TESTING) by operation of law until the child is 16 at which point they can separate with damages or have an option to renew either as covenant or plain marriage. If this marriage is created by law the court would stipulate the damages in the case of divorces or at least a method for determining them upon dissolution. The only reason a court would have a role stems from the lack of opportunity to negotiate the terms in advance of the marriage in this special case. That this marriage is created automatically doesn’t alter the fact that you could choose this form of marriage from the outset before children.
All government assistance in this scheme would revert to being available solely to TRAGEDY cases, as originally intended. AFDC was originally available only to mothers who had been widowed or abandoned, not to unwed sluts or women who left perfectly good husbands for no reason.
This system would cause women to tear themselves to pieces competing with each other to “earn” a covenant marriage from men who could withhold it as a prize for evidence of proper “wifely” behavior. Women would know instinctively that getting a man to accede only to plain marriage would be an indicator of their TRUE SMV. This would put ALL the marriage balls back in the man’s court and ensure his investment in a woman and children couldn’t end up destroying him. Both men AND women would have an incentive to be more circumspect with their sexual behavior because there would be CONSEQUENCES.
Another benefit would be the end of the oppressive regime of child support and single motherhood. If this scheme were enacted, the sound of legs snapping shut all over the country would be deafening.