House Approves Divorce Waiting Period

(KCPW News)  A bill that would require all divorcing couples in Utah to wait 90 days before a court hearing passed the House of Representatives Tuesday.  Representative Jim Nielson said Utah has the 22nd highest divorce rate in the nation, adding it’s time to no longer put the “comfort and preferences of the adults over the good of children.”

“Everything we have heard on this, and related bills, has been about the pain and the hell that adults are going through.  But the reality is children have a chance to grow up in intact homes more frequently when there is a divorce waiting period,” said Nielson.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Val Peterson, argued states with divorce waiting periods have the lowest divorce rates.  He said there are five states with a one-year waiting period, and seven more that require a 6-month wait.

But those opposing the bill, like Representative Johnny Anderson, said married couples who decide to file for divorce have likely already gone through their own personal vetting period.

“It is not right for us to assume that everybody who files for a divorce does so in haste.  Many have deliberated and considered the decision thoroughly prior to turning that paperwork in,” said Anderson.  “Forcing those people to wait another 90 days is nothing less than cruel.”

Utah’s current law requires a 90-day wait for couples without children; however those with children can have it waived if they complete a divorce education class.  House Bill 316 passed the house by a 43 to 26 vote and has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.