By Chris Kramer
Seeking a divorce in Utah could first require attending a mandatory class about the divorce process if a divorce bill were to become law in the state!
Last week, Utah Representative Lorie Fowlke saw her Utah divorce bill mandating that wannabe divorces attend a class on the legal, financial and psychological effects of divorce pass the House committee with a 6-3 vote. Fowlke, who has also been a major player in the long list of Utah child support bills this legislative session, has stipulated in HB128 that married couples considering divorce learn how divorces impact children, according to a story in the Daily Herald.
This proposed Utah divorce law would make this educational course mandatory for all couples considering divorce, regardless of if they have any children. This Utah divorce bill would also give married couples in the state the option of requesting that courts issue a temporary separation order. In order to make this request, Utah couples would have to take the education course and pay an additional $25 fee on top of the class cost. This $25 fee would apply to the cost of filing for divorce if the couple comes to that decision, according to the Daily Herald story.
Fowlke said in the story that the state already provides a similar parental divorce education class with many of the same features as her Utah divorce bill, which she added would come at a minimal cost and effort with this existing class already in place. The story says that the Utah divorce bill appropriates nearly $146,000 for the mandatory divorce education course for 2008.
Fowlke says that her Utah divorce bill addresses a fundamental need of people to have more information about divorce in order to make educated decisions. She also cited studies detailing how families can recover from divorce, and thinks that her Utah divorce bill and its mandated class would better equip families to do so.
One Utah Representative is quite worried about the implications of such a Utah divorce law. Jackie Biskupski of Salt Lake City is quoted in the story as describing this Utah divorce bill as an example of the government overstepping its bounds by dictating to people what they must do in order to get divorced. She especially thinks that this Utah divorce bill is not necessary for couples without children.
In addition to this Utah divorce bill, Fowlke has been busy this session with other pertinent bills. Fowlke has also introduced a Utah child support bill (HB17) which would give courts the power to require delinquent parents post bond at an amount equivalent to 36 months of child support payments. Fowlke has also sponsored HB133, a Utah child visitation bill which would allow overnight parent-time for infants aged 12 to 18 months and add Halloween as a holiday for visitation purposes.
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