Recent Government Reforms Related to Marital Formation, Maintenance, and Dissolution in the United States: A Primer and Critical Review


couple education, divorce, family policy, marriage


In this manuscript, we provide a sampling of law and policy reforms over the past decade intended to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages and set out the rationale employed to justify these initiatives. Then we turn to the challenging task of evaluating whether these initiatives are likely to bear fruit, acknowledging three primary critiques. In the end, we see governmental efforts to strengthen the institution of marriage as legitimate, although we raise several nontrivial concerns with implications for future directions. To predict that these initiatives will have a significant impact on the institution of marriage requires a strong belief in the power of educational intervention and a substantial expansion of public support that spurs efforts in the private sector.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J., Wilson, R. F., Ooms, T., Nock, S. L., Malone-Colon, L., & Cohen, L. (2009). Recent government reforms related to marital formation, maintenance, and dissolution in the United States: A primer and critical review. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 8, 264-281.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor