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Divorce seminar aims to discourage spouses from splitting

Many couples in Washington who have ended marriages would probably agree that their decision was one of the toughest any person can make in life. Besides cutting the emotional ties associated with marriage, spouses must also deal with complicated issues related to divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support and the division of assets.

In a move that may catch the attention of Washington lawmakers, an effort is underway to reduce the rate of divorce in Utah. Legislators in that state are currently considering a bill that would require parents contemplating divorce to pay for and attend a seminar that discusses the overall consequences of divorce and its effect on children.

In 1994, Utah was also the first state in the country to require couples to participate in a similar seminar before a divorce could be finalized. Currently, the seminar lasts two hours and costs $55. The current proposed legislation would force parents who wish to separate to take at least a part of this course earlier.

According to a study conducted in 2008 by the Association of Conciliation Courts, 48 states offer this type of course and 27 states legally stipulate that separating parents take this class. In other states, the decision is left up to counties or individual judges. The effort reflects the steps taken by states such as Oklahoma, Colorado and North Carolina to lower the number of divorces.

Although the country as a whole and the individual states are trying their best to help keep families together, sometimes divorce is the best option for a couple. Divorce does not have to be bitter for either spouse. To foster the chances of an amicable split, couples contemplating a divorce can get more information about the process and help protect their rights when it comes to any aspect of the divorce process.

Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer, "For Utah parents, hurdle to divorce could advance," Annie Knox, Feb. 25, 2014

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