Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parental Divorce Reduction Act

New Mexico state senator Mark Boitano introduced a bill last February titled the Parental Divorce Reduction Act.  The legislative intent behind the bill was to reduce unnecessary divorce, reduce family court litigation, and educate parents about the effect of divorce on their children.

Noble objectives; unworkable mechanics.  This bill basically died shortly after its introduction to the New Mexico state senate, even prior to being assigned to a committee.  For some reason, despite the death of this bill, it recently has received significant blog attention from family law pundits.

Perhaps the bill made headlines because of its attempt to introduce a significant counseling requirement for divorcing couples, followed by an 8-month "cooling off" period.  The text of the bill specifically mentions counseling topics such as domestic violence, drug abuse and alcoholism, and infidelity.

Many divorcing couples do not have these issues.  Those that do are not in the mind set to benefit from court required counseling; they just want their divorce over with, and quickly.

The best time to counsel individuals about the harmful effects of divorce on their children, addiction, domestic violence, and other family-related issues is prior to a marriage, not at the end of one.  On the other hand, many readers will share my opinion that such matters are not germane to government-imposed counseling.

Sadly, divorce will continue to be a permanent feature to our social landscape.

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