By Gerri Elder
Officials in Texas have put their heads together in an attempt to curb divorce rates in the state - by making it a little bit cheaper to get married in some cases.
Lawmakers have passed a law to encourage couples to do some thinking before heading to the altar. Beginning on September 1, free premarital training classes opened up across the state. Couples who participate in the eight hour course will have the state marriage license fee waived, according to a report by Lubbock Online.
The law actually increases the marriage license fee from $30 to $60 and allows couples to bypass the 72-hour waiting period to get married. Although the state marriage license fee will be waived for those that attend the premarital training course, some counties will still be able to charge up to $12 in local fees to issue a marriage license.
The premarital training classes will also be offered to married couples in an effort to reduce the divorce rate.
The classes are to be taught by faith-based and community groups and focus on communications skills, conflict resolution and other components of a healthy marriage. The premarital training courses can be delivered from a religious or secular point of view, as long as the key areas of instruction are covered.
Jason Whiting, a marriage and family therapy program director at Texas Tech says that the divorce rate in the United States has held steady for about the last ten years, with approximately 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. Research shows that premarital training classes and marital counseling reduces the rate of divorce.
Many couples are taking advantage of the program and see the benefits that it will offer them, aside from the $60 savings. By learning the skills to help make marriages successful and overcome difficulties, couples hope to avoid becoming a part of the divorce statistics in the future.
Many Catholic Dioceses require premarital training courses for couples who wish to be married in the church. The waived state marriage license fee is simply a bonus for these couples, as declining premarital counseling is not an option.
It only makes sense that by learning skills to deal with differences such as family backgrounds, personal interests and finances that are bound to arise during marriage, couples are better prepared to make a marriage work rather than filing for divorce at the first opportunity.
The premarital training classes provide a foundation for couples to build their marriages on so that perhaps in Texas, marriages will no longer be considered disposable. The $60 savings is not bad either - every little bit helps in a new marriage.