The investigation of fraud and perjury in divorce cases now being made by a grand jury in New York has directed attention beyond the evils of divorce rings to the larger problem of what to do about the institution of divorce itself. Suggestions for dealing with New York's problem reflect current thinking on legal and social aspects of divorce which are causing concern in all parts of the United States.
Adultery is the only ground upon which absolute divorces can now be obtained in New York. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York is pressing for amendment of the New York law to provide additional grounds for divorce. The association believes liberalization of the law will promote honest dealing in divorce actions and eliminate some of the frauds which result when the only way out of an unsuccessful marriage is production of “evidence” that one partner has been unfaithful.
Concern for Future of the American Family
The New York County Lawyers Association has invited specialists from other professions to join with it in a conference on “unstable families and the companion problem of the divorce evil.” The chairman of the association's committee on divorce said, Dec. 18, that the legal aspects of the problem were overshadowed by other aspects which had a much deeper significance. “The fundamental misconceptions which underlie the divorce law are the same misconceptions which underlie much of our penal law. They are the consequence of the punitive approach.” A similar position was taken by a committee of the American Bar Association which reported in 1948 that, while reform of the divorce law was important, no great progress could be made until the premise of prevention was substituted for the premise of punishment.