According to Billings Gazette, in Montana, state officials are seeking to require married couples to undergo 10 hours of marital counseling prior to being granted a divorce.
Supporters of the bill, known in short as HB438, feel that it would “slow down the rush to divorce court when the struggles of marriage become overwhelming,” states licensed professional counselor and supporter of the bill, Sharon Nason.
HB438 supporters feel that often times many couples do not stop to explore and attempt to solve problems in their marriage, preferring instead to rush full-force to a divorce and that couples do not stop to think of the effects the divorce could have on their children.
Montana Family Foundation representative, Jeff Laszloffy states that “divorce has had a devastating effect on families and especially children.”
The bill would require any couple that has a minor child in the home to undergo a minimum of 10 hours of marital counseling within 12 months prior to filing for a divorce.
Those who oppose HB438 feel it is the government trying to block divorce, particularly for those who cannot afford counseling or for those who are trying to exit an abusive relationship. However, the bill does not place this requirement on married couples where one party claims physical abuse has occurred.
Human-rights groups and women’s groups are also testifying against the bill.
Some feel that rather than martial counseling, pre-marital counseling should be required instead. Meanwhile, others like Janet Tatz, add that the bill has a “blatantly religious tone” and that religion “shouldn’t be incorporated into law.”