State Capitol News
3:06 pm
Wed February 10, 2010

House panel voted to make couples wait four extra months before divorce

Phoenix, AZ – Current law says a divorce decree can be granted in as few as 60
days after the other spouse is served with the legal papers. This
legislation would extend that out to 180 days, along with some
new requirements on what would have to be taught to couples with
children. Deborah Sheasby, lobbyist for the Center for Arizona
Policy, said the state has a legitimate interest in preserving
marriage.

(Beyond just the social costs and community instability of
families falling apart, there's even financial costs for the
state, increased costs for social programs, increased law
enforcement costs, increased education costs. And states with
longer waiting periods have lower divorce rates.)

The most recent figures from the Census Bureau show Arizona's
divorce rate at 3.9 per thousand residents, compared to 3.6
nationwide. The measure drew fire from Democrats including Rep.
David Bradley who pointed out that Republicans are always the
ones saying they want less government involvement in individual
and business affairs.

But now we want the government to tell people -- and assume that
they are incapable of knowing when their marriage has gotten to
the point where it's now irretrievable -- we're going to tell
them they have to extend it for longer periods of time because
they are unable to make that decision for themselves.)

The measure now goes to the full House. For Arizona Public Radio
this is Howard Fischer.