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Lawmaker wants divorce classes to start sooner in process

Colorado couples contemplating a divorce may be interested in proposed legislation in Utah that may affect the timing of divorce proceedings. Parents getting divorced in Utah and many other states now must attend a special class before the split is finalized, and now some Utah lawmakers want to have couples go through the class earlier in hopes of saving the marriage, particularly if children are involved.

The seminar has been offered in Utah since the 1990s, and Utah was the first state to require one. It teaches divorcing parents to keep their children out of the picture in order to shelter them from the conflict if possible. The bill's sponsor wants divorcing parents to take this two-hour class earlier in the process, in hopes the couple will reconcile in the best interests of their children. Opponents say once couples have decided to divorce, taking such a class earlier won't make a difference.

Forty-eight states now require some type of class for couples who want to divorce. Members of legislatures in Colorado and other states have debated lengthening the time it takes to get a divorce. In 2012, some Colorado lawmakers wanted to extend the waiting period to one year, while in 2013 North Carolina legislators proposed a two-year waiting period.

Few people think about divorce on their wedding day, but people and circumstances change. Sometimes a divorce is the only solution to marital problems. Most parents want the best for their children, and will try to make the situation as painless as possible for them. Besides taking the classes that are now either required or suggested in most states, they may want to consider family counseling as another option.

Source: ABC News, "For Utah Parents, Hurdle to Divorce Could Advance", Annie Knox, February 25, 2014

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