Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Project 2025 partners want to make divorce a lot harder

No-fault divorces allow marriages to be dissolved without having to prove wrongdoing. Multiple Project 2025 partners want to roll it back.

Project 2025 advisory board members have attacked or outright called for the end of no-fault divorce, the option to dissolve a marriage without having to prove wrongdoing by a partner. Research highlighted by CNN found “no-fault divorce correlates with a reduction in female suicides and a reduction in intimate partner violence,” including “an 8 to 16% decrease in female suicides after states enacted no-fault divorce laws.”

Project 2025 is backed by a nearly-900 page policy book called Mandate for Leadership, which extensively outlines potential approaches to governance for the next Republican administration, including replacing federal employees with extremists and Trump loyalists and attacking LGBTQ rights, abortion, and contraception. The Heritage Foundation’s proposals have a track record of success — the first Trump administration implemented 64% of Mandate’s policy recommendations. Project 2025 is also supported by a coalition of over 100 conservative organizations, many of which have spent years promoting critiques of no-fault divorce as “destructive” for society — or even blaming it for enabling a “culture of death.” According to a Media Matters review, at least 22 Project 2025 advisory board members have made similar comments targeting, restricting, or eliminating no-fault divorce.

Additionally, MAGA and far-right media figures have pushed for the removal of no-fault divorce laws across the country, and several local Republican parties in Texas, Nebraska, and Louisiana have called for the dissolution of no-fault divorce in some capacity.

  • American Compass

    • An American Compass post titled “Men’s Realism” claimed most men have “stopped searching for a wife because no-fault divorce laws and an unfavorable family court system make marriage a much riskier proposition than it used to be.” [American Compass, 11/17/23]
  • American Family Association

    • In a blog post, American Family Association’s Bert Harper pined for a time when “divorce was rarely talked about openly except in the real lives of movie actors, and there was no such thing as a ‘no-fault divorce.’” Harper continued, “Instead, not having this ‘severing of a family under impulse’ many times caused the parents to work out their differences and stay together.” [American Family Association, 1/12/22]
    • American Family News, a subsidiary of the American Family Association, posted an article with the headline “The faults in 'no-fault' divorce,” which argued that American culture “has​ been tarnished by the availability of penalty-free dissolution.” The author added, “Theologically, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce. There is always at least one party morally responsible for violating something God never intended to be dissolved.” [American Family News, 7/10/23]
  • American Legislative Exchange Council

    • The American Legislative Exchange Council proposed a piece of legislation dubbed the “Marriage Contract Act,” which would have eliminated no-fault divorce. [Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC Exposed, 2/13/17]
  • American Principles Project

    • American Principles Project President Terry Schilling argued that no-fault divorce laws will lead to American cities being “ransacked” by “criminal orphans.” [Media Matters, 6/27/23]
    • While appearing on a podcast hosted by right-wing media figure and failed GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, Schilling argued, “The reason we see so much dysfunction across our society today is because we’ve had decades long of a regime of no-fault divorce.” [Mother Jones, 12/14/23]
  • Center for Equal Opportunity

    • Center for Equal Opportunity Chair Linda Chavez penned an opinion piece in Crisis Magazine that argued policymakers should “revisit the ease with which we allow couples — especially those with minor children — to dissolve their marriages.” Chavez wrote that no-fault divorce laws, “which make it easier to dissolve a marriage contract than a cellphone contract,” are part of the government “encouraging divorce.” [Center for Equal Opportunity, accessed 5/22/24; Crisis Magazine 6/6/11]
  • Center for Family and Human Rights

    • In an anti-LGBTQ opinion piece in Crisis Magazine, Center for Family and Human Rights President Austin Ruse wrote that “the enemy is the sexual revolution,” which includes no-fault divorce and contraception. [Center for Family and Human Rights, accessed 5/29/24; Crisis Magazine, 7/7/23]
    • In an earlier Crisis Magazine post, Ruse argued, “Entire generations have been harmed” by allowing “easy divorce.” [Crisis Magazine, 8/2/13]
  • Center for Renewing America

    • CRA Policy Director Paige Hauser wrote a blog post for The Federalist titled “Mike Johnson Is Right: No-Fault Divorce Destroys Kids, Sex, And Society.” Hauser argued that no-fault divorce “has reduced marriage in America to a piece of paper and demolished the authority and stability of the family.” [The Federalist, 11/13/23]
    • The Center for Renewing America account reposted Hauser’s article on X (formerly Twitter) and described it as a “must-read.” [Twitter/X, 11/13/23]
    • William Wolfe, who’s served as a visiting fellow at the Center for Renewing America, has “called for ending sex education in schools, surrogacy and no-fault divorce throughout the country.” [Twitter/X, 2/23/24; Politico, 2/20/24]
  • Concerned Women for America

    • Concerned Women for America denounced a New York state bill allowing no-fault divorce, writing in a statement, “No-fault divorce would hurt women and children in our state.” The statement continues: “No-fault divorce would give leverage to the spouse who wants to leave the marriage and render powerless the spouse who wants to preserve the union.” [Concerned Women for America, 6/21/10]
    • In talking points released by the Kansas chapter of Concerned Women for America attacking same-sex marriage, the organization complained, “Marriage has already been weakened by no-fault divorce with tragic results for the family, especially women and children.” [Concerned Women for America, accessed 5/29/24]
    • Penelope Morrell of Concerned Women for America of Maine wrote that no-fault divorce is part of “a long list of external threats to marriage.” She continued, “Marriage is steadily becoming little more than a lease on another human being until a newer model comes out.” [Concerned Women for America, 3/13/07]
    • According to the Chicago Tribune, Concerned Women for America “wants tax parity for married couples and to do away with no-fault divorce laws, which the group blames for increasing the divorce rate and throwing many women into poverty after they divorce.” [Chicago Tribune, 9/15/04]
  • Discovery Institute

    • Discovery Institute senior fellow Benjamin Wiker described “casual divorce” as part of “the culture of death.” Wiker also included the sexual revolution and abortion as a part of “the culture of death.” [Discovery Institute, 5/19/02]
  • Dr. James Dobson Family Institute

    • On the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute website’s “No Fault” page, a paragraph attacking no-fault divorce is featured: “Since the inception of no-fault divorce in 1969, these laws have devastated families. They make ending marriage too simple, resulting in over 50% of first-time unions falling apart.” The accompanying video argues that “these laws undermine what God has ordained, allowing couples to disregard their vows with no accountability. From a legal perspective, the holy covenant of marriage holds no weight in court.” [Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, accessed 5/29/24]
    • In a video titled “Why God Hates Divorce,” a man says “you cannot simply go separate ways, you’re one flesh joined together by God in a covenant that’s intended to be separated by death alone.” A paragraph accompanying the video reads, “Many couples think there’s nothing wrong with no-fault divorce. … One passage in the Bible specifically reveals how much our Heavenly Father blesses the marital union and hates to see it destroyed.” [Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, accessed 5/29/24]
  • Eagle Forum

    • During an interview with HuffPost decrying “easy-to-get” and “unilateral divorce,” Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly said, “We need to restore fault-based reasons to justify divorce.” Schlafly also complained that custody law provides “the current incentive to one parent, usually the woman, who now believes she can walk out on all marital obligations, taking the kids and the income of the other parent.” [HuffPost, 2/22/11]
  • Ethics and Public Policy Center

    • Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow Carl Trueman attempted to link “our current system of no-fault divorce” to a lack of “moral decision-making of the cultural regime.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 11/2/23]
    • In another blog post attacking same-sex marriage, Trueman argued that marriage has “already been fundamentally evacuated of meaning by the ready acceptance of no-fault divorce.” He continued, “It is no longer a unique relationship whose stability is important for its normative ends, but little more than a sentimental bond that only has to last for as long as it meets the emotional needs of the parties involved.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 9/7/23]
    • EPPC fellow Patrick T. Brown wrote, “No-fault divorce undermined the notion that marriage was a commitment that aspired to permanence.” Brown added, “Social conservatives should be spending just as much, if not more, time trying to unwind the cultural and legal developments that enable a culture of casual divorce as seeking to overturn” same-sex marriage. [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 11/16/22]
    • Fellow Andrew T. Walker called for repealing no-fault divorce. Walker wrote, “Of late, I’ve seen critics on Twitter and the media intimate that if one wants American law to ban same-sex ‘marriage,’ ban abortion, ban transgender ‘medicine,’ repeal no-fault divorce, and promote the natural family, then, well, that’s Christian nationalism. If so, I’m guilty as charged.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 10/25/22]
    • Fellow Alexandra DeSanctis wrote in a blog post that no-fault divorce is “culturally harmful.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 3/28/20]
    • Fellow Luma Simms complained in a blog post that no-fault divorce is part of “a world that gives up on marriage when it gets hard.” Simms complained of “the culture that has blossomed out of no-fault divorce, the culture that now finds itself in the post-Obergefell mishmash of marriage being whatever anyone wants and only for as long as everyone involved thinks it’s still ‘working’ for them.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1/28/18]
  • Family Research Council

    • On its “Divorce” landing page, the Family Research Council railed against no-fault divorce, writing, “America’s embrace of no-fault divorce has weakened the institution of marriage, with disastrous fiscal, societal, and human consequences.” [Family Research Council, accessed 5/22/24]
    • In a blog post titled “Why Marriage Should Be Privileged in Public Policy,” Family Research Council writers discussed “restricting no-fault divorce” and promoted ways “to make divorce more difficult to obtain.” The writers attacked no-fault divorce, writing, “Abandoning fault divorce was a huge mistake, because no-fault divorce has led to a considerable increase in divorce rates, causing tremendous suffering for children and spouses.” [Family Research Council, 4/30/03]
  • First Liberty Institute

    • Before becoming a Trump-appointed federal judge, First Liberty Institute’s deputy general counsel Matthew J. Kacsmaryk attacked no-fault divorce in an opinion piece for the National Catholic Register, arguing that allowing no-fault divorce led to a “pillar” of marriage law falling. [The Associated Press, 4/8/23; Vanity Fair, 5/10/23; National Catholic Register, 5/24/15]
  • Independent Women’s Forum

    • The Independent Women’s Forum posted an article arguing against no-fault divorce, writing, “When women are encouraged to flout traditional norms, either through libertine sex lives or no-fault, no-guilt divorce, they suffer, as do men and children.” [Independent Women’s Forum, 4/2/24]
    • IWF visiting fellow Madeleine Kearns wrote a blog for the National Review with the headline “The Myth of No-Fault Divorce.” In the blog post, Kearns argued that no-fault divorce is “the idea that marriage, like a car, sometimes spontaneously breaks down, becoming more hassle than it’s worth.” [National Review, 1/7/22]
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute

    • A post from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute claimed “trends like no-fault divorce and children born outside of marriage are the logical outcomes when marriage is viewed as a legalistic hurdle rather than a sacred bond.” [Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 11/20/13]
  • Mackinac Center for Public Policy

    • Mackinac Center for Public Policy President Emeritus Lawrence W. Reed argued that no-fault divorce “has accomplished little beyond creating more poor, single-parent, female-headed households.” Reed added, “The marriage contract, as any other contract, must be respected and enforced so that those who wish to breach it will know that it is a costly endeavor.” [Mackinac Center for Public Policy, accessed 5/29/24, 2/1/92]
    • In another post, Reed described no-fault divorce as “destructive.” Reed wrote that no-fault divorce “results is a policy that ‘says’ to poor people, ‘Don't work, don't marry, abandon your responsibilities, have children, leave the family, and get a check.’” [Mackinac Center for Public Policy, 2/1/92]
  • Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

    • A blog post by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs described divorce as “a socially destructive behavior” and compared it to smoking and drinking sugary drinks. The post also argued for “tax benefits to new laws that create an option for covenant marriages, nuptial contracts that forgo the option of no-fault divorce.” [Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, 1/3/13]
    • In another post, the group argued, “The development of no-fault divorce ultimately changes people’s time horizons. When people aren’t forced to prove why a divorce is in the best interest of the man, woman, and child, they no longer think of marriage as a lifetime commitment.” The post continued, “If we as a culture embrace cohabitation and divorce instead of lifetime marriage, we are upsetting the singular institution (outside of the rule of law) responsible for our moral and durable culture.” [Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, 11/14/13]
  • The American Conservative

    • In a blog post on The American Conservative, writer Michael Toscano called for repealing no-fault divorce. Toscano wrote, “Rescinding no-fault divorce is the obvious place to start, because divorce is a state issue. It goes without saying that this would be met with ferocious resistance. Success, however, would have the long-term effect of strengthening the institution and increasing marriage rates. Strength and stability are attractive, after all. As for family policy, if what we truly want is marriage policy, then this is the road we must take.” [The American Conservative, 12/1/22]
  • The Claremont Institute

    • Scott Yenor, the Claremont Institute’s senior director of state coalitions, called for “reeling back our destructive no-fault, at-will divorce regime.” [The Claremont Institute, 5/2/23]
    • Yenor pened another post titled “Challenging the No-Fault Divorce Regime” where he wrote that “marriage is vastly more unstable under the no-fault, at-will divorce regime.” Yenor continued, writing that “changing the default settings for divorce proceedings may promote more marital stability.” [Institute for Family Studies, 7/31/23]
    • Yenor called for repealing no-fault divorce laws, along with “contraception and abortion,” as part of a policy to create “more fruitful marriages.” [The Claremont Institute, 5/15/23]
  • The Heritage Foundation

    • In an article titled “Crushing Society’s Building Block,” Heritage Foundation senior research associate Emma Waters argued that “it was no-fault divorce, not same-sex marriage, that first redefined marriage in the United States” because it “stripped marriage of its durability and security” and “codified the belief that children neither need nor desire to be raised by both their mother and father.” [The Heritage Foundation, 9/30/22]
    • In a report titled “Encouraging Marriage and Discouraging Divorce,” The Heritage foundation argued that no-fault divorce should not be allowed for parents with kids under 18. [The Heritage Foundation, 3/16/01]
  • Turning Point USA

    • In a YouTube short, Turning Point USA host Alex Clark said, “No-fault divorce is an absolute tragedy, it is the catalyst for other degenerate and relationship problem that we have in society. It broke everything.” [YouTube, 8/23/23]