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In 1994, Utah passed a law requiring divorcing couples to complete a class prior to making the divorce official. Now Republican Rep. Jim Nielson wants to take that law even further. If Nielson’s law passes, the three-month waiting period that precedes the official decree of divorce wouldn’t begin until after the classes had been completed.
This raises a number of questions, not the least of which lie in the red tape that already exists in the state’s divorce laws. Utah is one of the most difficult states to get divorced in, and when there are kids involved, it becomes even more hairy. Should the law be changed?
Why not? It seems well intended, and the nation’s high divorce rates are generally frowned upon as a bipartisan measure. If anything, it would keep couples together indefinitely, offering a fairytale ending to a previously distressed relationship, right?
Statistics would seem to suggest that idea holds true. A study from the University of Minnesota showed that 45 percent of couples starting the divorce process held out hope for reconciliation, especially when children were involved. It would seem as though kids change things. The bill that’s proposed only applies to marriages where minors are involved, making it a bit more valid.
What would appear at first glance to be a pointless extension of a marriage’s expiration date is instead a last shot for parents to weigh their marriage as a parent, not just a spouse. If this is the case, the curriculum should be expanded to include children within the class sessions. If we are truly working to ensure their wellbeing, why is the focus placed on the adults?
If two consenting adults want to impulsively get married, and then just as impulsively divorced, then they should be able to do so. The stringency of the laws applying to childless marriages is, amidst other things, absurd. These family-oriented agendas are welcome when they deal with nuclear families, but to force these expectations and procedures on a couple seems arbitrary and obtuse. Certainly we can think of some provisions for childless divorcees.
While most would like to see the divorce rate stay low, legislation isn’t the best way to accomplish that goal. Put money into family services, social work and public nonprofit programs for a better chance of the social benefits the state wants. Simply hanging an extra set of hoops to jump through won’t accomplish what this bill is looking to do.
When it comes to protecting children, we at The Signpost are all for that. Overstepping bounds into personal marriages and relationships? We’re not as fond of that. Take steps to ensure a happy home and prosperous future for children. Encourage couples to stay together. More than that isn’t anyone’s business but the family in question. At the end of the argument, whether legal or domestic, it’s the couple’s decision as to what they should do.
Red tape is an unpleasant idiom for a reason, as is jumping through hoops. They are unsavory when put together.