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Competing interests: divorcing couples, state prerogatives

If you and your spouse flatly know that your marriage is no longer viable, do you want state politicians weighing in on that determination by mandating that you take a time out for counseling classes before commencing divorce negotiations?

Didn't think so.

A recent media article takes an interesting look at the fine line drawn in many states between a couple's decision to dissolve their marriage and the state's competing interest in making them wait and think about it.

Once an intensely personal divorce decision has been reached mutually by two adults, should a state even have an interest in injecting statutory law requirements that force them to jump through additional hoops to secure a divorce decree?

There seem to be two distinct -- and polar opposite -- views regarding that question. On the one hand, of course, few couples in Texas or elsewhere who know in their hearts that divorce is the optimal outcome for their failed relationship endorse state interference with their decision to dissolve their marriage.

On the other hand, though, and as noted in the above-cited article, there seems to be no dearth of politicians and activist groups promoting policies "making it more difficult to get a divorce."

Their aim in doing so is clear enough, obviously being fueled by an agenda that alleges a critical importance of enduring marriages and a mindset that disfavors divorce on so-called "family-values" grounds.

An immediate question surfaces, though, regarding some states' enactment of mandatory parenting/counseling classes, prerequisite cooling-off periods filing to filing and additional exactions placed on would-be divorcing parties: Do they alter divorce outcomes in most instances?

If a couple has made the important decision to divorce, is it likely that their determination to do so will often be overturned by counseling sessions or a time-out period to think about things prior to filing for divorce?

Put another way: By enacting additional hoops to jump through en route to divorce, isn't a state unduly interfering with well-considered prerogatives and treating adults as children?

The aforementioned article states that, in general, a state's imposition of divorce-related hurdles "just forces two unhappy people to stay together longer."

And that would seem to serve nobody's best interests.

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Vernier & Associates, PLLC Vernier & Associates, PLLC

Vernier & Associates, PLLC
2441 High Timbers Drive Suite 110
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: 281-882-3271
Fax: 832-585-0955

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