When we made divorce legal, we drove a cart and horses through the bedrock of our society. Chesterton was pretty spot on with his analysis, except that the result was even worse than he anticipated.
However, now it's done and there is no way we can make divorce illegal again unless we wish to descend into barbarism, as society has moved on, and the old models do no longer fit modern lifestyles and mores. We need a new model.
So we need to ask 'what was marriage?' Clearly, the christian model thereof no longer is applicable to the majority of our citizens, and the mess we legislated what was left to death with also is unworkable.
However, there remains the laborious and expensive business of raising the young, and, in this case, there is no remedy for getting it wrong, a child ruined is a child lost forever.
Marriage no longer is the unbreakable contract between a man and a woman and the idea of a lifelong romantic attachment as the norm in life and as a signature element of our culture it has been dropped.
We also need to accommodate a huge variety of different lifestyles and believes.
A side-effect has been that the kids(if any) have been turned into valuable hostages and the game strategies are decided by lawyers and what the law makes possible, with payouts and perks approaching lottery win (taken right out of the children's mouths)
However, kids are the people who have the main interest in a marriage working out, and they are the main losers in divorce cases, no matter what deal the adults eventually agree on.
Looking further down the line, being a single parent family kid is often a very lonely childhood -- and some adults have issues with their parental behaviour when there is no second adult around too. There are a heap of other reasons (you can probably figure out yourself...). No matter how much you gilden the cage here, this is a complete disaster for the child.
So, let's start with the idea that children have certain requirements in life -- enough food, nappies and so on, but also, that they have needs to have 2 parents who will be there for them until they are 18, and that they have a right to a happy childhood that allows them to develop into competent people.
One parent families offer none of the above, and for many kids they work out as a insidious forms of serial child abuse. (for many reasons!) Also for the single parent this often is a tough task, and quite a few people get pushed to their limits and end up behaving destructively.
So, let's rewrite the concept of 'family' with the children as benefactors and the parents as providers(instead of the kids being a celebration of romance), and let's give the kids some rights and control over how this family life is conducted, and let's drop the idea that the adults in the family have any rights over finances or the kids, but make the kids a legal entity that has a direct claim to any family assets.
In other words, we need to severely curtail out adults' rights and promote children's rights instead.
As an idea collection in no particular order:
Being married entitles people to have children legally, because the union supplies two guardians for the planned children. Children born out of wedlock get to adopt two parents by default, since otherwise, they could not command two guardians which should be the minimum of parents a child has. However this does not invalidate the obligation of the physical parents to pay alimony and whatever else is required to compensate the kids for loss of blood parents.
Also, there is a compulsory DNA test at every birth to verify parentage in order to protect the genetic rights of the children(medicines for example). (yes you may stipulate donors of course who would not be financially liable, but still genetically responsible, and such children should have access to their blood relatives) Only one such marriage is allowed per life and only widow(ers) have the right to remarry with full conception rights. Because there no longer is a legally recognized romantic part of the marriage, fraudulent adultery that results in pregnancy should get a jail term after parental duties have been discharged as this is one of the most terrible frauds that can be done to a man, the child and the donor. However, in the meanwhile, people will be bound to *all* the children the marriage produces. If you want to be uncharitable, you'd call the marriage partners 'breeding mates' (and you'd be spot on). Note: none of this says anything about your private sexuality. Unless I see a disgusted, shocked horse I don't care just don't make anyone other than yourself unhappy... romance is great but your sexlife should not be a factor in your parenthood -- marriage is about raising children, and so why not be direct about it and say it like it is: parents work for their kids -- the children own the parents, not the other way round.
If there is a separation that cannot be avoided for self-inflicted causes, the children are removed as a family unit and placed with adoptive parents, and both original parents are liable for the full maintenance. Children get to decide their own access rights, and parents will have a duty to attend. Widowers or people whose spouse is otherwise incapacitated (not jail birds tho) will need a different set of rules here, but that would disgress so I'm not dealing with that there, there are obvious common sense solutions tho.
Why such a radical change?
Adults wanted to be liberated from the moral constraints of romantic marriage, but in the process abandoned their children. I think that changing the basic focus of the family contract in the way I described would be a very good remedy for many problems we have with modernity, whilst leaving people their essential freedoms to indulge in *after* they done their duties.
This change also actually restores the original essence of marriage and basically nixes the permission to divorce -- you can still divorce your spouse, but you remain property of your kids (think indenture) for as long as they have a legitimate claim on you and you only lose the right to continue to breed as to protect the interests of your existing children who would be in direct competition with your new family.
It would also elevate children to be free people who have rights instead of being quasi-chattles of their parents.