Sen. Spartz has introduced SB 406 which would mandate marriage counseling prior to a court issuing a final order of dissolution in divorce proceedings where the couple has children. There are exceptions where at least one of the spouses certifies that they’ve been a victim of domestic abuse by the other, the court finds that reconciliation is infeasible, or the court finds other good cause to excuse the counseling. The counseling must be at least two hours long and contain the following content:
(A) Creation of a plan of reconciliation, if feasible.
(B) Education on the effects of divorce on a child’s physical and mental health.
(C) Information on how the parties can minimize the effects of the dissolution of marriage action on the parties’ children.
(D) Provision of referrals to community services for the parties and the parties’ children.
The legislation gestures toward courts entering into agreements with counselors who will waive fees where there is a financial hardship, but my guess is that won’t be especially feasible. I don’t know enough about divorce proceedings or counseling to know for sure, but my guess is that this will mostly be wasted money and effort. If you’re on the brink of finalizing a divorce, I have a hard time believing that a two hour counseling session is going to move the needle very much. Divorce is a huge pain in the ass on its own — people generally aren’t going through the process frivolously. That said, I do like the idea of providing people with information on how to minimize the impact of divorce on the kids and on community resources that can help.