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- LONGER WAIT FOR DIVORCE GETS OK IN GEORGIA SENATE
Senate bill would require four- to six- month delay; parents would get
> "People need to stop and think about what they're doing and that's all this
> bill does," Harp said.
> The debate over same-sex marriage last year helped bring the divorce issue to
> the forefront. Many critics of Georgia's constitutional amendment to ban
> same-sex marriage, approved overwhelmingly by voters Nov. 2, argued that gay
> marriage would not hurt the institution of marriage as much as divorce does.
In Dallas, we'll explore blueprints for state divorce and marriage
legislation in a Friday afternoon workshop followed by a Legislative forum
and discussion group at 5:45pm.
> 316 - Friday, June 24, Dallas Smart Marriages Conference
> Talking with State Legislators and Officials about Marriage
> Sheri Steisel, MPP, Jack Tweedie, JD, PhD, Sen Bill Hardiman, John Crouch, JD
> Learn to provide compelling information on the benefits and feasibility of
> supporting marriage, what other states have accomplished and discuss new
> legislative templates.
By SONJI JACOBS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
March 4, 2005
Ending a marriage in Georgia could take months longer under a bill gaining
momentum in the General Assembly.
The state Senate voted 36-17 on Thursday in favor of a proposal that would
extend the waiting time for an uncontested no-fault divorce from 30 days to
120 days for a childless couple and 180 days for a couple with children.
The bill also would require divorcing couples with children to take classes
on the impact of separation or divorce on kids. The classes would cost $30,
but a judge could waive the fee for low-income couples.
The measure now heads to the House. Last year, a similar measure passed the
Senate but foundered in a House committee.
Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg), the bill's sponsor, cited statistics
detailing the negative effects of divorce. He said divorced women are five
times more likely to live in poverty than married women. He also said
divorce hurts children.
"If you can keep families together, that has a positive impact on our
society," Seabaugh said. "We'll have to appropriate less money to deal with
the consequences of the divorce."
The bill would waive the waiting period for victims of domestic abuse if
they have obtained a protective order or have alleged abuse in a
Several senators spoke passionately against the bill.
"Georgians don't want a busybody government," said Sen. Steen Miles
(D-Decatur). "This epitomizes being a busybody government, intruding into
the lives of private citizens."
Miles said that if members really care about families, they should fully
fund education and the PeachCare program for uninsured children and support
an initiative to help members of the National Guard and reservists.
"Let's just do the right thing and get out of folks' private lives," Miles
Sen. Seth Harp (R-Midland), a lawyer who favors the bill, said he has
handled at least 5,000 divorces.
"People need to stop and think about what they're doing and that's all this
bill does," Harp said.
The debate over same-sex marriage last year helped bring the divorce issue
to the forefront. Many critics of Georgia's constitutional amendment to ban
same-sex marriage, approved overwhelmingly by voters Nov. 2, argued that gay
marriage would not hurt the institution of marriage as much as divorce does.
Other groups have directed considerable energy into strengthening marriage.
Conservative national organizations, such as James Dobson's Focus on the
Family, urge couples to seek divorce as a last resort. The Georgia Family
Council, one of the main group's pushing Seabaugh's bill, is among 38 state
groups associated with Focus on the Family.
Lawmakers across the nation are debating marriage. Officials in every state
have adopted at least one policy or sponsored at least one activity to
promote marriage since the mid-1990s, according to a study by the Center for
Law and Social Policy.
Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana have adopted a two-tier marriage system that
allows couples to opt for a "covenant marriage," requiring premarital
counseling and counseling before divorce. The Bush administration has
proposed a $1.5 billion spending initiative over five years to encourage
® 2005, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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Diane Sollee, Director
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