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State government to divorcing parents: Give it 1 more try

Ask a group of people living in Illinois or any other state and you're bound to find someone who believes that there's too much divorce going around. Whether that sentiment is fueled by religious beliefs or nostalgia, many feel that couples who opt for divorce simply haven't tried hard enough to make their relationship work. 

If you've suffered through a bad marriage or grew up with constantly fighting parents you may not agree. Nor would many domestic violence victims. But one state's government has taken an official position on the matter and wants its residents to comply.  

Utah has some of the most stringent laws in the country when it comes to divorce. No matter how long they've been together, married couples with children in the state are not allowed to simply file for divorce, determine child custody and go their separate ways. State law dictates that any parent who files must take a one-hour class on the effects of divorce on children. The course also offers alternative solutions to divorce. 

A state legislator is attempting to make it even tougher to split up by requiring parents to take the class before they file for divorce, provided their children are under age 18. The spouse of the filer would have to take the class within 30 days of the filing. The only exceptions would be for victims of domestic abuse, provided they can show some proof -- in the form of a police report, a protective order or a letter from a domestic abuse shelter. 

Understandably, many in Illinois would balk at the suggestion that court officials should have any say over whether they and their mates belong together. Many couples in our state have made their own efforts to improve a struggling marriage -- through counseling, marriage retreats or solemn promises to try to communicate better. Sometimes even those who strongly oppose divorce have to acknowledge irreconcilable differences, especially when their children are suffering the negative effects. Making every effort to save your marriage is admirable, but when it's not possible, Illinois family law provides an easier path to relief and future happiness.   

Source: The Washington Post, "Utah legislation would require classes before filing for divorce," Reid Wilson, Dec. 12, 2013

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