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One state proposes law to require divorce class before filing

California residents know that filing for divorce is a difficult decision for a couple. It is often challenging to confront issues like property division, child custody, child support and maintenance. Many wait for months or even years before taking the steps needed to end their marriage, in part because they are confused and sometimes intimidated by the legal process.

Once the decision to divorce is made, it can take time for the matter to be finalized. In some cases, the parties come to an agreement and settle, but in others the case proceeds to a trial where a judge is asked to make the decisions. The court can make a determination as to all issues, both financial and those relating to family issues such as child custody.

California readers may be interested in learning about a bill currently under consideration in the Utah state legislature that would require a couple to take a divorce orientation course prior to the finalization of their separation. Under the proposed legislation, the person seeking the divorce must take the course before filing legal papers, while the other party must take the course within 30 days of the filing. The bill currently applies only to couples with minor children living at home and includes an exemption upon a showing of domestic violence.

According to reports, local family law attorneys oppose the idea of a divorce orientation at all, but if passed, they argue the course should be offered online and at no cost. Should the bill become law, it would require a 90-day waiting period after filing.

While it remains to be seen if the proposed changes will be enacted, the bill underscores the need to be fully informed about the divorce process. This is as true in California as it is in Utah. Certainly, anyone considering a decision to dissolve a marriage must pay attention to the legal requirements. Speaking to an experienced divorce attorney may be helpful.

Source: Standard-Examiner, "Measure says getting married and divorced may require class time, Loretta Park, Feb. 2, 2012.

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