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The Cost of Divorce

May 2008

Dear Friends,

One of the cornerstones of Focus on the Family's outreach over the past 31 years has been its effort to strengthen the institution of marriage. There's no denying that when marriages break down, the spiritual, emotional and social consequences can be severe, not only for the families directly involved, but for the culture as a whole.

A study released last month highlighted one more disturbing aspect of divorce: the financial burden it places on society. On April 15 — tax day — the Institute for American Values, the Georgia Family Council, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and Families Northwest released statistics showing the staggering annual taxpayer costs associated with divorce and unwed childbearing. Specifically, the report quantified a minimum $112 billion annual cost to citizens from high rates of divorce and unmarried childbearing. That translates into more than $1 trillion in local, state and national costs over the past decade alone! (To view the report in full, visit

David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, noted that the study shows that "divorce and unwed childbearing — besides being bad for children — are also costing taxpayers a ton of money. Even a small improvement in the health of marriage in America would result in enormous savings . . . This report now provides the basis for a national consensus that strengthening marriage is a legitimate policy concern."1

These findings are simply the latest in a growing and extensive body of research demonstrating that it literally "pays" to strengthen the institution of the family, not to mention the impact of divorce on children and the culture at large. That's why it is distressing to consider that, for the most part, this issue has not been a major emphasis of American public policy over the years. Indeed, we have heard precious few comments about marriage by the major presidential candidates or their surrogates. It is as though they have never given it a thought, which is very distressing to us. This lack of concern about the most basic building block of culture is one of the reasons why Focus has invested such a great deal of time, energy and resources into nurturing and defending families. Now, more than ever, it is clear that strong, stable marriages represent the greatest hope for future generations.

Marriage is but one of numerous areas of emphasis here at Focus. You probably know that we have ministries designed to assist parents, grandparents, children, teens, college students and single parents, many of whom have themselves endured the pain and turmoil of divorce. Here are some of the latest points of interest in our ongoing mission to strengthen families to the glory of God and the betterment of society:

  • We'll soon complete production on a terrific Marriage & Parenting small group curriculum that will be comprised of six different six-week sets and feature nationally known Christian communicators. Stay tuned for more details!
  • Our daily radio broadcast reaches approximately 3.5 million listeners each week, while the "James Dobson Family Minute™" radio commentary now has a weekly radio audience of almost 9 million listeners in the U.S. alone.
  • The ninety second feature, Focus on the Family Commentary™, is now heard by 220 million listeners in 150 countries around the world.
  • Our DVD worldview seminar, Focus on the Family's The Truth Project®, continues to have a dramatic impact. This August we'll host our first International Training Conference in South Africa. Spanish and Arabic editions of the curriculum are also being released this summer, and a simulcast satellite broadcast is scheduled for September 27. Over 22,000 people have already been trained to serve as small group facilitators. Visit for the latest.
  • Our Option Ultrasound™ program is experiencing dramatic growth as well. Estimates suggest that an additional 36,000 babies will be saved this year through Option Ultrasound — in addition to the 84,000 babies that have already been saved to date!

There are a number of other family friendly projects in production here at the ministry that I think you'll find as exciting and promising as we do. Although space limitations prevent an exhaustive overview, I'll share just a few examples:

We recently obtained the rights to record a Focus on the Family® Radio Theatre® version of C.S. Lewis's classic The Screwtape Letters. Adventures in Odyssey® will be releasing its 50th album in the fall. Our films crews recently finished taping episodes 8, 9 and 10 of "That the World May Know®" on location in Egypt and Israel. Release is slotted for 2009. More? Our wildly popular publication Plugged In® will soon begin nationally syndicating a 90-second movie or music review on television.

Finally, a brand-new, multi-functional and dimensional Focus on the Family Web site has just launched. Visitors can access both current and classic programming — along with tuning into our 24-hour Web Radio network.

With so much going on and so many opportunities before us here in the United States and globally, the excitement here at ministry headquarters is palpable. At the same time, if you read the P.S. to last month's letter, you know that we are very concerned about the state of the ministry's finances at this time. The situation is not dire, but we do have serious concerns about Focus on the Family's financial health, which is a reflection of the difficult economic realities facing our nation as a whole. We are especially cautious as we head into the summer months, which typically represent a financial "dry spell" for us, even when the national economy is strong.

We know that many of you are struggling financially as well, and we do not want you to feel pressured to make a contribution to Focus. However, if you're in a position to donate at this time, even sacrificially, and if the Lord so leads, please do let us know that you're out there. If you do decide to send a gift at this time, please know that it will be utilized prayerfully in the ongoing work of strengthening marriages and families. As the study outlined earlier indicates, investing in strong families is not only important from a moral and spiritual perspective; it can potentially improve our nation's economic outlook.

Thanks in advance for your consideration of this request. And to those of you who have recently made a contribution, thank you for your support! Please continue to pray for the ministry as we endeavor to be wise stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. And be sure to let us know how we can serve you and your family in the days ahead. Richest blessings to you.


James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman


James D. Daly
President and CEO

1"Marriage Breakdown Costs Taxpayers at Least $112 Billion a Year," PR Newswire-U.S. Newswire, 15 April 2008.
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