Wash. bill aims to make divorce more difficult

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by KGW Reporter Erica Heartquist

NWCN.com

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 12 at 6:42 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A Washington Senate bill designed to extend the waiting period for finalizing divorce will be heard in Olympia Friday, the day after Valentine's Day.

Washington's Senate Bill 5614 would essentially extend the divorce waiting period from 90 days to a full year before the marriage is officially over.

It's known as the Family Second Chances Act and supporters of the bill said the idea is to avoid impulsive decisions. The bill's sponsors believe even a small reduction of divorce in Washington could benefit families and their children.

The bill, sponsored by Clark County Republican Senator Don Bento and nine others, reads in part: "Divorce causes poverty, juvenile delinquency, and lower scholastic achievement among children of our state. Even a modest reduction of divorce in our state could be beneficial to children. Empowering couples with education on nonadversarial approaches to divorce, reconciliation information and resources, and increasing the waiting period for a dissolution can be beneficial to families of our state."

The law would require the administrative office of the courts to create a handbook explaining the sections of Washington law pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of marital partners to each other and to any children during a marriage and a dissolution of marriage. That handbook would have to be provided to anyone applying for a marriage license and would also need to be provided when they file for divorce.

Those opposing the bill said it hurts the abused. The group "Stop Senate Bill 5614" said, "As it is, for those who are divorcing abusive spouses, the current 90 days is too long a wait, filled with fear and abuse from those they are divorcing. This new bill, if voted in by our senators, would be making that wait a living hell for the abused."

The group said many victims of abuse are forced into hiding until the court dates are done and the waiting period is over.

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