Proposed Legislation Requires Pre-Filing Divorce Course in Utah

If you file for divorce in Utah and have minor children, you have to take a divorce education class and a divorce orientation class.  These classes  are part of what makes Utah’s divorce laws more stringent than most state laws in the country.  Now a proposed law for the 2014 general session of the legislature seeks to make it even tougher for Utahns to get a divorce.  The proposal seeks to do the following:

  1. It requires anyone who seeks to file for divorce to complete the mandatory divorce orientation training before filing a petition for divorce;
  2. A victim of domestic violence does not have to take the orientation class before filing a petition;
  3. A respondent (the person who is served with a divorce petition) has to take the mandatory divorce orientation course within 30 days of being served with the petition;
  4. If a party has already taken the course in the past then he doesn’t have to take it again;
  5. If a petitioner finishes the course more than 30 days before filing a divorce petition he gets a discount on the court filing fee;
  6. It also raises the filing fee for a petition for divorce

There is no reason for this law.  Utah Code already provides a procedure that is aimed at accomplishing what this new law is planned to do: decrease the number of divorces.  A spouse who wants to delay divorce can force his spouse to work on their relationship by filing a petition for conciliation, which basically forces the parties into marriage counseling.

When it comes down to it, if someone wants to get a divorce there is nothing the state can do to prevent that.  The only thing these divorce classes and other proposes divorce prevention measures accomplish is wasting more time and money than otherwise would happen without them.  Utah’s Legislature should do less.

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