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Proposed legislation’s author addresses wording of divorce bill

  • Published Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at 4:07 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at 4:15 p.m.

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Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, revealed himself as the author of a bill that would remove incompatibility as a valid reason for divorce.

Rep. Keith Esau, R-Olathe, introduced the bill on Thursday to the House Judiciary committee on behalf of Bradford. On Friday, Esau would not disclose the name of the legislator who authored the bill, but argued that “no-fault” divorce had made it too easy to end marriages.

In a phone conversation on Saturday, Bradford also explained that he commonly asks other members to sponsor legislation on his behalf, because he writes so many bills. He also said that he had not instructed Esau to withhold his name, but they just hadn’t discussed the need. Bradford also said that his bill still includes a way for couples to divorce without fault but just removes incompatibility as a reason.

However, Bradford’s website – johnbradfordks.com – contradicts that. On a page titled “Issues” under a section marked “Family Values” the site touts the elimination of no-fault divorce as a legislative priority.

“Elimination of ‘No Fault Divorce’ – John has submitted a bill for the 2014 legislative session to eliminate ‘incompatibility’ as grounds for divorce,” the site reads. “This effectively ends what we know as ‘no fault divorce’. One of our core conservative beliefs is building strong family units and we must work toward that goal in all our endeavors.”

In a second phone conversation, Bradford said his site is incorrect and that his web designer has not responded to his request to fix it.

Bradford e-mailed a copy of the bill, and it does include a provision that couples can separate due to no fault.

How it changes the law, though, significantly is it outlines in place of incompatibility a list of other reasons for couples to divorce: adultery, felony convictions, abandonment of the home for one year, physical or sexual abuse, living separately, failure to perform “marital duty or obligation” and mental illness.

These specific reasons replace the blanket term of incompatibility. Bradford did not repeat the same rhetoric that Esau did about divorce undermining strong families. He did, however, say that lawyers would not like his bill.

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