Couples with kids may soon have to wait to get a divorce in North DakotaFargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A couple living in North Dakota and looking to get divorced may soon be required to wait and attend counseling, if kids are involved.
By: Kay Cooley, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A couple living in North Dakota and looking to get divorced may soon be required to wait and attend counseling, if kids are involved.
Backers of a new proposed bill SAY IT would benefit the couple's children.
Some people living in Fargo say it's a step too far.
In a state with the 9th lowest divorce rate nationwide, broken families are still more common than ever before.
Logan Johnson: "I myself have divorced parents"
Logan's family is one of roughly 2 thousand in North Dakota that get divorced each year, half of those involve children..
Johnson: "It was definitely a struggle, they had to go to court and stuff for that so major disputes between them."
House Bill 1423..wants to change that.
Under the bill, backed by state senator Tim Mathern, before divorce cases ever make it to the courtroom, couples with children would be required to have a six month waiting period..where they'd have to attend at least five counseling sessions.
Mathern: "this bill does not a make a decision about whether divorce is a positive or negative, it only suggests that there be some time and some effort put in to making sure children's needs are addressed."
The bill is getting criticized. Some people say it's a step too far...
Craig Helenske/Fargo: "I think we have a real problem with all levels of government sticking their nose into a lot of people's business"
Mathern: "Much of what law is regards the private lives of citizens"
Even the state's bar association has come out against it.
Jason McLean/Family Attorney: "It's an overreach. It almost feels like we're not letting adults be adults. All this does is prolong conflict for most people."
And although many believe force isn't necessary, they recognize how important waiting or counseling can be when a child is involved.
Helenske: "Sometimes people, to use the analogy of our children, need a time out"
Johnson: "They probably would've had a more positive outlook on each other instead of just anger and disagreement"
The bill does include exemptions for divorce cases involving substantial domestic abuse allegations.