State Sen. Austin Allran, who represents Alexander and Catawba counties, is sponsoring the bill, which would require couples to wait two years and get marriage counseling before a divorce becomes official.
Currently, North Carolina’s no-fault divorce law requires couples to live separately for one year before obtaining a divorce. Under the proposed Healthy Marriage Act, couples would file an intent to divorce and then begin the two-year waiting period.
The bill would also remove the restriction on couples to live apart during the waiting period, instead of leaving it up to their discretion. It would also require married couples to take courses on conflict resolution, communication and the impact of divorce on children if applicable.
Sen. Allran told WMFY News 2 that the current divorce laws in North Carolina discourage couples from reconciliation during troubled times. He acknowledged that there are issues the bill does not address, such as how the changes would affect marriages involving domestic violence and where funds would come from to pay for mandatory counseling.
The North Carolina bill is just one of many similar pieces of legislation being considered by other state legislatures nationwide, including those in Iowa, Washington State, North Dakota and Alabama.
In a previous blog post, we addressed some of the arguments offered by opponents and supporters of bills to alter divorce laws. North Dakota lawmakers defeated the measure, but it is apparent that attempts to change divorce laws are sweeping the country. The Raleigh divorce and separation attorneys at Charles Ullman & Associates will continue to watch how North Carolina handles the Healthy Marriage Act, as well as moves by lawmakers in other states.