Could a Waiting Period for Divorce Save Marriages?

Well, could a mandatory waiting period for divorces save marriages?

A former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court certainly believes so. Former Justice Leah Ward Sears told the Washington Post that most divorcing couples did not have high levels of conflict as currently believed. In fact, she cited research that claimed up to 66 percent of divorcing couples had average happiness and low levels of conflict. She further says these divorces from “average happiness” have the greatest potential for reconciliation and are the most harmful for the children involved.

To further bolster her claims, Sears called on the research of William Doherty, a social science professor at the University of Minnesota, who surveyed 2,500 parents in Minnesota undergoing the divorce process. He found that both spouses were open to reconciliation in ten percent of the cases, and in 30 percent, one spouse wanted to reconcile.

As such, Sears and Doherty urge states to look into passing laws that would require at least a one year waiting period before filing for a divorce. During that waiting period, the couple would have to undergo parental education, counseling for reconciliation, and education regarding non-adversarial approaches to divorce. They note, however, that such a waiting period would be waived in cases that involve abuse.

Both say that such laws could spare families “the pain of an unnecessary divorce,” but couldn’t it also potentially make the divorce process worse? By dragging out the process, couldn’t it make it harder on the children as well as the parents?

Granted, the divorce rate is incredibly high, and many couples call it quits without trying to work anything out. But will forcing couples to take education regarding parenting and reconciliation really help?

Could such laws save marriages, or do they just postpone the inevitable? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!


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