Legislators Discuss Proposed Divorce Bill | VideoJessica Roose | 2/11/2013
It`s all about the children. At least that`s what supporters of House Bill 1423 say is at the core of the legislation.
"I contend that the state of North Dakota has a vested interest in doing what it reasonably can to ensure divorcing parents have some vital information to proceed through the process of ending a marriage contract," said Representative Naomi Muscha (D) from Enderlin.
If passed, it would assist couples wanting a divorce by requiring them to go through five counseling sessions. Not necessarily aimed at getting them back together.
"What this bill is trying to do is recognize that, not take any judgment about why that marital relationship ended. But to say let us make sure that issues that affect the children get some attention in the divorce process," said Senator Tim Mathern (D) from Fargo.
The parents would be required to discuss how the divorce could affect the children and figure out the financial situation going forward. It would also require a six month waiting period before the judge could issue a final order.
"We believe that the adoption of this bill, House Bill 1423, would have the affect of preserving some marriages which otherwise would end in divorce and the result would be positive for not only the couple but also for the children of that marriage," said Tom Freier with ND Family Alliance.
The opposition says there are already programs in place that offer this kind of support and the bill could harm those who have already come to a peaceful agreement by making them wait six months for the final order.
"Instead of carrying through with their parenting plan to deal with their children they have to sort of live in a state of limbo. Waiting for the physical moves and the other kinds of finality that come," said attorney Sherry Mills Moore.
Moore added that many couples who are getting a divorce have already gone through counseling and shouldn`t have to go through more.
The bill includes an exemption for those who are in a domestic violence situation.
A similar bill failed in the last legislative session.