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Georgia lawmaker seeks to change no-fault divorce

Couples in Georgia might regard divorce as practically a right, albeit one that they might not ever expect to use. The process is certainly easy enough. After a 30-day period, calculated from the date a complaint seeking a divorce was served upon the other spouse, a no-fault divorce can be obtained.

However, circumstances can change, and people along with them. Financial disruptions, career changes, disputes over how to raise children, or perhaps even minor issues might cause some couples to choose separate paths. Before deciding to initiate a divorce proceeding, some couples might opt for counseling therapy. Of course, such an approach might not be for everyone, especially those who don’t subscribe to the efficacy of certain social scientific methods.

Yet if some Georgia lawmakers get their way, couples therapy will indeed be for everyone -- or at least required of all qualifying couples before they are permitted to file for divorce. State representative Jason Spencer recently sponsored a bill that would have amended Georgia’s divorce statute. The proposed legislation would have required expectant couples and those with minor children to participate in eight hours of classes designed to improve the skills needed for effective communication and conflict resolution. The proposal would also extend the 30-day waiting period in no-fault divorces to 11 months.

There are exceptions to the proposed legislation. Couples separated for more than five years would be exempt, as would couples where one spouse is incarcerated in prison. In addition, divorce based on other reasons often characterized as fault, such as adultery, domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, or abandonment would also remain an option for couples.

Source: Huffington Post, “Is the Way We Divorce in America About to Change?” Beverly Willett and Chris Gersten, April 29, 2013

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