French counter-enlightenment thinker Louis de Bonald’s uniquely strong proposal for discouraging divorce, as summarized by Mark Henrie:
If divorce is allowed at all, therefore, parents should be treated as deceased and the children raised as wards of the state. This follows because “a father and mother who divorce are . . . really two strong people who conspire to rob a weak one [the child], and the State which consents to this is an accomplice in their brigandage.” Bonald’s insistence on the primacy of the good of children in the state’s relationship to families anticipates the arguments of such contemporaries as Mary Ann Glendon. But his application of a harsh sanction to support the institution of marriage (without regard to the perceived interests of individuals) is unique to Bonald’s approach. While we would not want to contemplate the seizure of the children of divorced parents, perhaps we can find other sanctions that would alter the calculus of divorce. As Bonald says, “Choices will only be more prudent when their consequences are more serious.”
From “Divorce, Communitarian Style” in our archives.