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How one state is looking to amplify already stringent divorce laws

The vast majority of people understand and appreciate that the decision to seek a divorce is not something to be taken lightly. That's because they know that while a divorce may enable them to start down a new path in life, it could result in major changes in their living arrangements, financial circumstances and, of course, family life.

Interestingly, lawmakers in one U.S. state believe that not all people looking to secure a divorce may be taking the time to make these careful deliberations and, as such, have essentially passed a law mandating that this happens.

State law in Utah currently dictates that any state residents who have filed for divorce must wait 90 days before their separation will be finalized. Furthermore, state law dictates that those parents who have petitioned for divorce must also take a one-hour class designed to provide information about divorce alternatives and the effect that divorce can have upon children.

As if this wasn't onerous enough, one state lawmaker has recently introduced legislation that would require the spouse seeking the divorce to complete this class before filing the divorce petition if they have a child under the age of 18 and the other parent to complete the class within 30 days of the filing of the divorce petition.

Those spouses who are seeking divorce because of domestic violence would not be required to comply with the law so long as they can provide evidence in the form of a letter from a shelter, a police report or a protective order.

While the impetus for making Utah's divorce laws that much more stringent has presumably been to help lower its divorce rate, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control from 2011 -- the most recent year for which such data is available -- show that Utah actually had a divorce rate of 3.7 per 1,000. This was far from the lowest in the nation, lagging behind multiple states such as Iowa (2.4 per 1,000), Illinois (2.6 per 1,000) and New York (2.9 per 1,000).

It should be noted that legal experts indicate that the bill would likely be challenged on constitutional grounds if passed as it could be viewed as restricting access to the courts.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Is it a good idea or too restrictive?

Stay tuned for updates …

If you would like to learn more about divorce, child custody or child support, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions, explain your rights and fight on your behalf.

Source: The Washington Post, "Utah legislation would require classes before filing for divorce," Reid Wilson, Dec. 12, 2013

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