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Bill would require divorcing parents to take classroom course

Those couples who have made the difficult decision to pursue a divorce likely anticipate that they will have to take trips to law offices and courthouses over the course of the coming months. However, what they likely don't anticipate is having to take a trip to a classroom.

Interestingly enough, if a proposal introduced in the Minnesota Senate last week gains the necessary legislative traction, this may soon the reality for thousands of people looking to legally dissolve their marriages in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The proposal, authored by Democratic Senator John Marty, calls for all parents with minor children to attend a so-called marriage dissolution course within 60 days of filing for divorce.

According to Marty, the purpose of the bill is not to make it harder to secure a divorce or somehow limit the discretion of judges to grant divorce decrees. Rather, the primary objective is to help divorcing parents grasp how a divorce can be difficult on their children, understand the value of proceeding with minimal conflict, and plan for the financial and custody challenges they may encounter.

He also indicated that the mandatory four-hour course could serve to facilitate meaningful discussions between divorcing parents and possibly even result in reconciliations.

It is worth noting that the proposed legislation also outlines a few scenarios in which people would be exempt from the marriage dissolution course, including those where people are unable to cover the cost or where completion of the course would be contrary to the best interests of the children.

Previous attempts to mandate classroom time for divorcing parents have failed to clear the House of Representatives. However, Marty indicates that the proposal now has broad bipartisan support thanks to the resolution of outstanding issues and stands a good chance of passing.

What are your thoughts on this legislation? Do you think it's a good idea or a potential roadblock to divorce?

Sources: The Star Tribune, "Bill pushes parents of minors to take marriage dissolution course before divorce cases proceed," Feb. 5, 2015; BringMeThe News, "Could a 4-hour marriage conflict course help divorcing parents?" Adam Uren, Feb. 5, 2015

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