Ten Washington State senators have sponsored a new bill that would require divorcing couples to wait one year before finalizing their split. Currently, those divorcing must only wait 60 days before being cleared for divorce.
The bill, Senate Bill 5614, is sponsored by republican Senator Don Benton, of Vancouver, and it is called the Family Second Chances Act. According to the bill, divorce is bad for families and for children—and is linked with poverty, juvenile delinquency, and poor performance in schools.
Those who support the new Washington divorce bill say that they hope the longer wait period will force couples to think longer about their decision to get a divorce, and that it may prevent some divorces if couples take the waiting period to attempt to reconcile or to work on their relationship. Generally, they believe the bill would stop couples from making impulsive decisions.
Those who do not support the bill say that 90 days is a completely reasonable amount of time to wait during the divorce process, and that those seeking a legal divorce don’t enter into the process lightly or if they are not sure. Opponents of the bill also say that the bill is an issue when it comes to marriages affected by domestic violence and domestic abuse. They also say that the bill is overly paternalistic—and that adults should be able to make their own decisions on their own timeline. An online petition has been started by Washington residents who disagree with the bill.
Most states do not have waiting periods for divorce, and only three states have a waiting period of one year or more.
The divorce bill was heard on Friday, February 15, 2013, by the Senate Law and Justice Committee.