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New Bills Proposed to Require Couples Counseling before Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on February 2, 2011

An article on The Huffington Post reports that a Nebraska state senator recently proposed legislation that would provide judges the option to send couples with children who are minor-aged to counseling before granting a divorce. Moreover, in cases where no minor-aged children are involved and one spouse believes the marriage could be saved, counseling would be required. The bill does not specify who would pay for the counseling.

In Wyoming, a similar bill was introduced, and would make it mandatory for any couple wishing to marry to attend three hours of marriage counseling. If they failed to do so, they would have to wait a year before receiving a marriage license. Additionally, the bill would require couples who are seeking divorce to attend three hours of counseling. If they fail to do so, they would have to wait one year to file for marriage dissolution. This bill would require couples to pay for the counseling.

However, similar bills have been rejected. In 2009, a bill failed to pass in Texas that proposed anyone who files for divorce with minor-aged children would be required to complete 10 hours of counseling. In Oklahoma, in 2008, a bill was rejected that would have required couples who wished to divorce visit a therapist or faith-based counselor. The bill also aimed to eliminate “incompatibility” as grounds for divorce if the couple had been married for over 10 years or had children.

These bills raise several questions, such as, who will pay for the counseling? Therapists have expressed apprehension regarding whether or not insurance would cover the expense of counseling if the bills pass. Critics have also noted that the bills may not even be constitutional, as they would hinder an individual’s rights by creating obstacles to end marriage. Forty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a state law that mandated fees for divorce filings because it wasn’t affordable for the middle- to lower-classes.

The Pennsylvania divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz have dedicated their practice to helping those in need of legal assistance with family law matters in Pennsylvania. If you are considering filing for divorce in Pennsylvania, contact us today by calling 610-645-0100 to learn how we can help guide you through this difficult time.

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