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Divorce is one of the most disturbing problems of modern times. It is the subject of frequent comment by religious, governmental, and academic leaders, and the number of articles on it in the press and popular periodicals indicates great concern on the part of the general public. Because divorce is a legal proceeding, many lay groups are prone to hold the legal system—the law, lawyers, and the courts—responsible for the problem and to believe that reforms in the law are the solution to it. This article attempts to examine realistically the legal system's responsibility for divorce, both in the light of what it is doing and what it can be expected to do.
Any adequate treatment of the subject requires a consideration of the contributions that nonlegal groups can make toward easing the problems of marital discord. Nonlegal groups share divorce responsibility with the legal system. They also may be able to achieve more than courts and lawyers can in dealing with marital-discord matters. There may be points where the legal system should withdraw its efforts in favor of nonlegal alternatives, and there may be points where the most effective action will require the joint efforts of the legal system and nonlegal groups.
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