California Healthy Marriages Coalition

research

The State of California's Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State

NEW RESEARCH from CHMC

•  Download The State of California's Unions: In the Pews and the Public Square       
         
(1) The State of California's Unions: In the Pews and the Public Square (full report)
           * Download CHMC's FREE reesource: First Steps to Launch a Marriage Ministry How-To-Kit.


•  Download The State of California's Unions: Finding Common Ground on Marriage        
     
    (1) Finding Common Ground on Marriage - Political Party Affiliations and Ideologies (exec summary)

•  Download the 2008 State of California's Unions        
        
 (1) The State of California's Unions: Marriage & Divorce in the Golden State (full report)
         (2) The State of California's Unions: A Report on Marriage from a Blue State (summary)

•  Select findings from the 2008 State of California's Unions        
         (1) View State, Regional, and by Religious Involvement
         (2) View State, Regional, by Income Level, and by Generation

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The State of California's Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State - California Healthy Marriages Coalition commissioned The State of California’s Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State to:

(1) determine how California residents view marriage, divorce and Marriage Education;
(2) gain understanding about residents’ marriage and relationships, past and present, including relationship quality and family support; and
(3) examine findings by demographic variables including gender, age, income, ethnicity, political affiliation, and religious involvement.

The statewide telephone survey of 2,005 Californians aged 18 and older was conducted between January 4 and January 24, 2008.  Residents were asked a comprehensive set of questions about their attitudes toward marriage and divorce, opinions on marriage and divorce policies, and past and present experiences with marriage, relationships and Marriage Education. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is ± 2.2 percent.

Forty years ago, California led the nation in becoming the first state to ease dissolution laws so that just one spouse could end a marriage, thus creating “no-fault” divorce. Intended to ease the burden on family courts by helping unhappy couples quickly end a seemingly unfixable relationship, the number of marriage break-ups surged, and in these forty years, millions of California’s children have found their families broken apart. Currently, about 120,000 California couples get divorced every year. (Judicial Council of California)

Divorce impacts the health, wealth and productivity of our great state. Worse, it has a lasting effect on California’s most precious commodity, our children. Over the last four decades, millions of California’s children have experienced the devastation of family breakdown. Research shows that children in a divorced home are significantly more likely to drop out of school, abuse alcohol and drugs, be involved in juvenile violence and crime, and be sexually and physically abused.

Sadly, the related social service impact on State and Federal governments of California’s broken families conservatively costs taxpayers more than $4.8 billion per year. (The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing, Institute for American Values) Divorce has wreaked unanticipated havoc on the Golden State … on its families, its children and its institutions.

Fast forward four decades. California is attempting to lead the nation again … in measures that help couples create and sustain strong marriages and healthy families through Marriage Education.

Marriage Education is a skills-based educational approach in which individuals or couples are taught research-based skills that have been shown to increase effective communication, success in resolving problems and conflicts with their spouse/partner, and skills that increase marital commitment and satisfaction.

In 2006, the nonprofit California Healthy Marriages Coalition (CHMC) was awarded the largest Healthy Marriage Demonstration Grant ever given by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF).  Through the $11.9 million dollar five-year grant, CHMC partners with a network of California faith- and community-based organizations to deliver Marriage Education and Relationship Skills classes to California’s diverse population.

CHMC commissioned The State of California’s Unions: Marriage and Divorce in the Golden State to

(1) determine how California residents view marriage, divorce and Marriage Education;
(2) gain understanding about residents’ marriage and relationships, past and present, including relationship quality and family support; and
(3) examine findings by demographic variables including gender, age, income, ethnicity, political affiliation, and religious involvement.

The findings presented in this report provide many interesting and often surprising results. While there is a lot of work to do to turn around California’s divorce culture, it is clear that the majority of Californians believe in the benefits of marriage and want theirs to be a successful one—both for themselves and for their children. One of the surprising results of this survey is that about one-fifth of Californians have already experienced the benefits of Marriage Education and Relationship Skills Training classes.

This is good news for The State of California’s Unions. And, just as “Eureka” (“I have found it!”) became the motto of the ’49ers who struck it rich here more than a century and a half ago, we hope that as the word spreads about Marriage Education and Relationship Skills Training, California will be seen once again as the place where people can strike it rich through a mother lode of marriage-support resources available in our state.


>> DOWNLOAD THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA'S UNIONS REPORT (PDF)