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Washington bill proposes longer waiting period for divorce

Washington families routinely go through a range of challenges that can strain relationships and create tension. While some of these struggles are normal and families work through them in time, others become insurmountable and result in divorce. When dealing with families going through this change, there are a range of family law issues that come into play. Because of the effects divorce can have on families and children, some Washington lawmakers are seeking to make them tougher to get.

Currently, Washington couples are required to wait 90 days before the court formally recognizes the divorce decree. Citing the often negative effects divorce has on families, including the children, a bill supported by both conservative Democrats and Republicans is attempting to lengthen this waiting period to one year. The bill is named the "Family Second Chances Act" and refers to statistics and studies that show that divorce contributes to poverty, lower educational achievement in children, and juvenile delinquency. The bill aims to assist couples considering divorce by providing them with information on reconciliation and nonadversarial approaches to divorce that can improve the process. The bill's extended waiting period would not apply in case where one spouse was convicted of a violent or sexual felony or where family violence was involved.

While divorce can be messy and complicated, there are a variety of reasons why people choose divorce, and remaining in a contentious or hostile marriage can often prove worse for children and families than divorce. When a couple considers the family law issues involved in a divorce, such as child custody and child support, and seeks to negotiate a workable compromise, the process of divorce can go much more smoothly. With the help of an experienced attorney, parents can create parenting plans that provide for the best interests of the children and minimize conflict and disruption.

Parents who choose to divorce should realize that the experience may be tough for their children, but there many things they can do, both on their own and with the help of a lawyer, that can make the experience less contentious and easier. Open communication and negotiation, where possible, are key. In many cases, uncontested divorces can provide the opportunity for a couple who is willing to work together amicably to resolve the divorce outside of court.

Source: Q13Fox, "Lost that loving feeling? 'Second chances' bill could extend divorce dissolution from 90 days to 1 year," Feb. 14, 2013

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