The Parental Divorce Reduction Act is a new proposal to reduce unnecessary divorce, and it set forth by the Coalition for Divorce Reform.
A broad consensus of studies finds that divorce has serious negative lifelong psychological consequences for children, and costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. A significant number of these divorces are unnecessary. The object of this Act is to reduce “unnecessary” divorces where minor children are involved.
Before filing for divorce, parents of minor children would be required to participate in four to eight hours of face-to-face divorce education classes. The classes provide information on the effects of divorce on children and adults.
Under the provision of the act, after completing the classes, parents must wait an additional eight months before they may file for divorce, a period that may serve as an opportunity for reflection and reconciliation.
The classes would also teach “research-based” communication and other relationship skills that help strengthen marriage. The Coalition for Divorce Reform bases this approach on recent studies that find that about one-third of divorcing couples report an interest in reconciliation.
Exceptions are made for a spouse who is physically abused, abandoned for eighteen months, married to a partner who is incarcerated for five years, or married to someone addicted to alcohol or drugs who refuses to seek treatment and rehabilitation.
The legislation is budget neutral, requiring the divorcing parties to pay for the cost of the divorce education. TANF funds, when available, may be used to help defray the divorce education fees for the indigent. The cost to the couple should be modest and not exceed $100-$200.
Online divorce education modules will be made available for persons in rural areas or elsewhere who do not have access to face-to-face divorce education.