IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Ben Carson calls for making divorce harder

Carson, who is often mentioned as a potential Trump running mate, writes in his new book that the U.S. should end no-fault divorce laws.
Ben Carson speaks at CPAC 2024
Ben Carson is out with a new book calling for a national abortion ban.Aaron Schwartz / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

Ben Carson, who is often named as a potential running mate for Donald Trump, is out with a new book in which he calls for an end to no-fault divorce laws in the U.S.

“For the sake of families, we should enact legislation to remove or radically reduce incidences of no-fault divorce,” Carson writes in “The Perilous Fight,” released Tuesday. 

“The reason this matters is that no-fault divorce legally allows marriages to end much more quickly than in previous decades. When there are relatively few legal or financial consequences connected with divorce, it’s natural for people to gravitate toward that option when their marriage hits a rough patch,” he adds. “What those people often don’t consider, however, is the harm — both present and future — inflicted on their children once a divorce is finalized.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Trump has been divorced twice.

Beginning in 1969, when then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law in the U.S., no-fault divorce has enabled millions of people to file to end their marriages for “irreconcilable differences” or without having to prove misconduct by their spouses — such as adultery or domestic violence. 

Before those laws, which now exist in every state, divorces were rarely granted and then only under strict criteria. The laws are credited with furthering women’s financial independence and safety. 

Since then, research has shown that no-fault divorce correlates with reductions in domestic violence and suicide rates among women. A 2015 study found that women are more likely than men to initiate divorces. 

Carson joins a growing list of conservative politicians and commentators who argue that no-fault divorce degrades the American family unit. 

In a 2016 sermon, now-House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., listed no-fault divorce laws as one of the causes turning the U.S. into a “completely amoral society.” Sen. JD Vance, of Ohio, another Republican who is often talked about as a potential running mate for Trump, also has said he believes that divorce is now too easy.

“This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that, like, ‘Well, OK. These marriages were fundamentally, they were maybe even violent, but, certainly, they were unhappy, and so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that’s going to make people happier in the long term,'” said Vance in 2021 in a video obtained by Vice News. “Maybe it worked out for the moms and dads, though I’m skeptical. But it really didn’t work out for the kids of those marriages.”

While neither Johnson nor Vance has introduced legislation on the national level to roll back no-fault divorce, action has been taken on the state level. The official GOP platforms in Texas and Nebraska call for their legislatures to rescind no-fault divorce laws. And in Oklahoma, a Republican state senator introduced legislation in January to abolish no-fault divorce laws, which has not passed.  

Carson’s book broadly advocates for a return to traditional, conservative family values. In addition to his push to end no-fault divorce, he calls for a national ban on abortion, for men to “assume the responsibility of leadership” in families and for cuts to welfare for single mothers to encourage marriage.