Strengthen and Preserve Marriage

Published on November 17th, 2011


In 2010, New York State became the final state in the country to legalize no-fault divorce.  The NYS Catholic Conference opposed this legalization and believes it will result in an increased number of divorces and all of the significant negative consequences that divorce brings.

Conference Position

The New York State Catholic Conference supports efforts to strengthen and preserve marriage, defined as the lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.  Recommendations to accomplish this goal are noted below.


A growing consensus confirms that children raised outside of intact marriages are at higher risk for experiencing higher rates of poverty, welfare dependency, crime, school failure, substance abuse, juvenile delinquency and adult criminality, mental illness and emotional distress, domestic violence, unwed teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, poor quality family relationships, and child abuse.

Adults, too, benefit from marriage.  Married people live longer, healthier lives with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower rates of mental illness and emotional distress, and they make more money than otherwise similar singles.  Many social, economic and psychological benefits of strong marriages flow to government and society as well.

The Catholic Conference encourages initiatives to strengthen marriage and reduce unnecessary divorce.  Such initiatives include incentives from government such as a reduction in marriage license fees/waiting period, an increase in the child tax credit, and a reduction in marriage “penalties” such as those in the tax laws and welfare programs.

The Conference urges pre-marital education in conflict management, communication skills, and financial responsibilities, and the possibility of a high school requirement course in marriage and relationship skills. An explicit pro-marriage message should be added to all family life/health education programs.

For interested couples, particularly low-income couples, the government should consider vouchers/tax deductions/referrals for marriage education, mentoring, counseling and divorce education/mediation programs that are designed to reconcile the spouses, rather than merely ease the procedural process of divorce.

You can download this document, Strengthen and Preserve Marriage, in PDF form.