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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Parental Divorce Reduction Act is Misguided

New Mexico state senator Mark Boitano introduced a bill last February titled the Parental Divorce Reduction Act.  The legislative intent behind the bill was to reduce unnecessary divorce, reduce family court litigation, and educate parents about the effect of divorce on their children.

Noble objectives; unworkable mechanics.  This bill basically died shortly after its introduction to the New Mexico state senate, even prior to being assigned to a committee.  For some reason, despite the death of this bill, it recently has received significant blog attention from family law pundits.

Perhaps the bill made headlines because of its attempt to introduce a significant counseling requirement for divorcing couples, followed by an 8-month "cooling off" period.  The text of the bill specifically mentions counseling topics such as domestic violence, drug abuse and alcoholism, and infidelity.

Here in Michigan, there are a pair of tie-barred bills in the Senate that were recently referred to the Judiciary Committee.  The bills propose required counseling on the effects of divorce and a longer pre-marital waiting period or premarital counseling.

Many divorcing couples do not have these issues.  Those that do are not in the mind set to benefit from court required counseling; they just want their divorce over with, and quickly.

The best time to counsel individuals about the harmful effects of divorce on their children, addiction, domestic violence, and other family-related issues is prior to a marriage, not at the end of one.  On the other hand, many readers will share my opinion that such matters are not germane to government-imposed counseling.

Sadly, divorce will continue to be a permanent feature to our social landscape.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Rollercoasterider said...

"The best time to counsel individuals about the harmful effects of divorce on their children, addiction, domestic violence, and other family-related issues is prior to a marriage, not at the end of one."
True, but what about those who are already past that point.
When my husband left me for someone else I found the books about preventing infidelity unhelpful; I was already living in it. How can we address both prevention and assistance to those past that point?

June 29, 2011 at 7:06 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

Rollercoasterider, this is why we don't agree with such legislation. In many cases, it makes no sense to prolong the inevitable; in fact, such a delay may well harm the family. Sustained adultery is certainly one of those instances. We thank you for your thoughtful comment and wish you the very best.

June 30, 2011 at 3:34 PM 
Anonymous Rollercoasterider said...

Sorry--? How is it prolonging the inevitable? Maybe I'm just misunderstanding what you are trying to say.
Divorce is not inevitable.
I'm not divorced and my husband is no longer having an affair. That ended a few years ago and we are stronger now than before.
That Parental Divorce Reduction Act can help root out those couples who would be interested in reconciliation assistance.

There are couples who would be interested if given the opportunity, but they don't think it's possible or they don't think they can do it or they aren't taking the initiative to seek counseling instead of divorce. But recent research has shown that in 10% of divorces, both partners would be interested in reconciliation assistance. That's not a lot, but it is something.

July 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM 
Blogger LinzluvsGJ said...

I agree with Rollercoasterride. Divorce is NOT inevitable. Right now I am having divorce forced upon me by my husband who has been unfaithful and is dealing with PTSD in addition to it following a deployment. Our problems are not insurmountable, but he feels they are right now. We have FIVE children, all who are being torn apart daily by this situation as am I. I am very interested in reconciliation with my husband and any route to get to that, and I don't feel that my husband truly understands the impact that this will have on our children (or me let alone him) for the long term. New Mexico has ZERO waiting period. It has been proven that states with waiting periods longer than a year have significantly lower divorce rates. Those who require classes for parents of minors and counseling of some form (whether it be marital counseling, family counseling, or individual counseling) also have lower divorce rates. It is my strong belief that those should be implemented in ALL states. Look at other countries around the world including Canada, the UK, etc., and they all impose waiting periods and counseling on those seeking divorce, they do not have unilateral divorces without those factors, and they have 1/3rd to less divorce rates than our country.

November 11, 2011 at 6:03 PM 
Blogger Timothy P. Flynn said...

LinzluvsGJ:

Thank you for the thoughtful and heart-felt post. We hope that you and your husband get the marriage counseling that you need to repair your family. Your post gave us pause to consider that, perhaps in more cases than not, a divorce is not inevitable. Perhaps counseling should be considered. A mandatory wait period could help with that more often than not.

November 13, 2011 at 9:00 PM 
Anonymous Beverly Willett said...

"Those that do are not in the mind set to benefit from court required counseling; they just want their divorce over with, and quickly."
Fortunately, the research proves otherwise, and the PDRA attempts to slow down the train wreck that occurs in so many situations, resulting in substantial, lifelong harm to millions of our nation's children. Linda Waite's research from U. of Chicago demonstrates couples who elect to exercise patience are happier five years down the road. Bill Doherty's research from the U. of Minnesota, all over the news this years, indicates up to one-third of couples ARE interested in reconcilation if only they knew where to go. The recidivism rate -- 66% of 2nd marriages end in divorce and 73-74% of third ones -- demonstrates, too, that these hasty decisions are usually not good ones. The PDRA will address this, save marriages and families, and save taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
Beverly Willett, Vice Chair, Coalition for Divorce Reform

December 13, 2011 at 7:49 AM 

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