OUR VIEW: Government, marriage and divorce

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 11:02 AM

Editorial Board

We don't approve of the government mandating, in this case through the Utah Legislature, that couples take required courses before getting married or divorced.

Unfortunately, proposals have circulated this legislative session to do that. Ogden Republican Rep. Dixon Pitcher wants to require all couples that want to marry in Utah, take pre-marital counseling of at least three hours. Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, wants to require couples with children to take a divorce orientation course before a divorce is filed.

Currently in Utah, couples are required to complete a divorce orientation course before the divorce is finalized.

Also, Nielson's bill would restore a 90-day waiting period before a divorce is finalized. There are exemptions for divorces that involve domestic violence.

Frankly, we don't like the current law that already requires couples to take a class to be divorced. It's best if the family is mostly kept out of government review in cases of marriage and divorce. We see hypocrisy in legislators, who claim to be against excessive government, wanting the state to poke into the personal lives of residents.

Having said that, we have no problem with couples who decide to marry or divorce going to orientation classes, whether they are provided by local communities, churches, or other organizations. There's no doubt that many couples readying for marriage could benefit from a marriage orientation class, which would review the responsibilities and challenges of couples sharing a life together.

What is wrong is the passing of laws that require such classes, particularly for divorce. Mature adults who are already suffering anguish associated with the dissolution of a partnership do not need the stigma of being required to take a class focused on divorce.

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