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New bill aims to restrict Georgia couples' ability to divorce

For many years, Georgia has had one of the highest divorce rates in the nation. Some have said that this is because Georgia law makes it relatively easy to get a divorce - in uncomplicated no-fault divorces, marriage dissolution can be finalized as quickly as 30 days from the date the complaint is served.

Newly introduced legislation seeks to change this. A bill being considered in the Georgia Legislature would increase the time it takes to get a divorce, allowing a final dissolution approximately 11 months after the complaint is served.

The bill would only apply to couples who have a child who is 17.5 years old or younger, or who are currently expecting a child. Before they would be allowed to get a divorce, these couples would have to participate in an eight-hour class that teaches them about the effects of divorce on children and families. The classes also provide workshops on communication and conflict resolution.

Couples can choose whether they will take the classes separately or together. They will also be provided with resources to continue counseling and education after the mandatory classes are over.

The bill creates an exception for couples who have lived apart for more than five years. It also provides exceptions when there is a history of domestic violence or when one spouse is incarcerated.

The legislation is modeled after a bill that was introduced in North Carolina earlier this year. Both initiatives are sponsored by the Coalition for Divorce Reform, an organization that says it aims to "reduce unnecessary divorce and promote healthy marriages."

Source: Huffington Post, "Is the Way We Divorce in America About to Change?" Beverly Willett and Chris Gersten, April 29, 2013

Our law firm practices divorce and family law in Georgia. For more information, please visit our website.

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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