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Should All States Have Minimum 1 Year Divorce Waiting Periods

Family laws differ from state to state. We especially have seen that lately in relation to same-sex marriages and divorce laws. Another aspect of family law that varies from state to state is the waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.

Some believe that adults should be able to get out of their marriages in a relatively quick fashion. They are in an unhappy marriage and should be able to move on without the societal pressure to reconcile during a required waiting period. But others see waiting periods in divorce as a way to save the American family.

The Washington Post included an opinion piece this week by a family law attorney and a family social science professor. They suggest that a proposal called The Second Chances Act be put in effect throughout the entire country. If enacted it would require the following of divorcing parties:

  • Wait one year before a divorce can be official
  • Take required parenting classes before filing for divorce

The required parenting classes would be for those with young children and reportedly include advice on how parents could potentially reconcile their relationship and avoid divorce. Also, the courses would equip parents with the information about how to divorce in the healthiest way possible with young children.

The advocates for this one-year waiting period believe that some couples might give up on their marriages too easily. Even if the requirements associated with The Second Chances Act don’t inspire a couple to stay together, then those parents would at least have the knowledge about how to divorce in a way that protects their children.

Of course, there are sadly many marriages that are not only unhappy but dangerous. In cases of domestic violence, this proposed legislation would not make a one-year waiting period necessary.

What do you think about required waiting periods and divorce? Would families and the community benefit by trying to keep more marriages intact? Or would the waiting periods just be putting off the inevitable?


The Washington Post: “Delaying divorce to save marriages,” William J. Doherty and Leah Ward Sears, Oct. 20, 2011