Oklahoma City, OK- There is no question a parent’s divorce impacts a child in many ways from the emotional to the physical. Lawmakers in Oklahoma recognize this and their solution for protecting children from the emotional tidal wave that accompanies divorce is to pass legislation requiring couples with children under the age of 18 to attend mandatory classes.
Lawmakers have a reason for concern, surprisingly, recent census data shows Oklahoma has one of the highest divorce rates in the U.S., according to KOKH-TV.
Beginning in November, couples with children under 18 must attend a mandatory class which discusses how children are affected by their divorce and is aimed at directing couples to reconciliation instead of dissolution. Each couple in the state must attend and pay for a mandatory class if they are seeking divorce for incompatibility.
The class costs between $15 and $60 and parents are required to attend the class either together or separately within 45 days of receiving a court order. In some cases, a couple can be granted a waiver to forgo the class.
“It seems like a small thing to ask people to do — to take a course — when the challenges that come from divorce are so permanent,” one of the legislation’s sponsors Republican Jason Nelson told Tulsa World.
This is the latest attempt by lawmakers in variety of states to make divorce more difficult in order to reduce rates and protect children from the negative effects of their parents’ split. Such initiatives are pushed by groups like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage with a modicum of success.
A number of states have extended the amount of time a couple must wait before they will be granted a divorce. Wait times are normal and give a couple the chance to reconcile their differences, but extending those wait times for a year or two years like in North Carolina can prolong the strife for parents and children alike.
Mandatory counseling is also becoming more common with North Carolina and now Oklahoma jumping on the reconciliation bandwagon. How much difference these mandatory classes will make will be unclear for some time, but it is doubtful it will help lower divorce rates significantly.
There’s no harm in trying to prevent divorce, but laws making it tougher don’t take into account the fact that the majority of couples don’t hastily make the decision to divorce and tear apart their families. Divorce is typically a carefully considered solution to an unhappy and unrewarding marriage often punctuated with visits to divorce attorneys.
Parents should consider how their children will be affected by their divorce and because of this many couples endure years in a disappointing and unfulfilling marriage just for the sake of their children can also cause harm. According to Parent magazine, tension and fighting has an equally negative effect on children and will teach them behaviors they will carry into adulthood.
If divorce is inevitable, the best way to protect children from divorce is to assure their best interests take the forefront in proceedings and their wishes are respected. This best achieved by allowing a divorce attorney to work with a couple and come up with child custody arrangements both parents and their children can agree on.