Thursday, January 19, 2006

3 divorce measures hit close to home - Colorado

3 divorce measures hit close to home

This article does not give much insight as to why these measures were suggested. As noted in the article the bills would "include eliminating a 90-day waiting period and a mandatory parenting class" as well as "seal psychological and medical records related to establishing custody."

In terms of the waiting period and mandatory parenting class - both measures would appear to be distinct negatives for the children of these parties. One can only assume that Rep. Lauri Clapp did not appreciate being forced to wait three months and attend a class to help her appreciate how her decisions will affect her children.

Though Rep Clapp claims her goal is fairness - the question must be for whom? Not to the children who will be forever changed by this decision and certainly not to the spouse being left through the on demand McDivorce that will result by eliminating the waiting period.

The waiting period does not require the spouses continue to cohabitate - only that they approach this decision with the reverence it deserves. In the case of a divorce without children - I suppose I wouldn't have too much of an issue with the removal of the waiting period except that it just again demonstrates how temporary our society now perceives marriage.

This quote came from the article, "I always hate it when lawmakers use their own personal experiences to try to change the law," said attorney Harvey Steinberg. "It's aways important to subtract emotion when determining important legal issues. Can you think of anything more emotional than a divorce?"

While "subtracting emotion" may be preferential for purposes of proposing legislation in many cases - it certainly seems much legislation has been born from emotion. Laws that protect children, minorities and public safety issues were likely conceived through a deeply emotional experience. Moreover, I am convinced that much of the population cannot even begin to perceive how difficult a divorce (particularly with children) can be until they find themselves in front of a judge on such issues. The realization of how convoluted, disorganized, and often extremely unfair divorce courts can be has surely brought many people to the cause. In turn, these people have often been integral in proposing legislation to combat such problems. Case in point, the renewal of VAWA (Dec 17th, 2005) came with the following language: NONEXCLUSIVITY - Nothing in this title shall be construed to prohibit male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from receiving benefits and services under this title.

All in all, I fail to see the positives of these initiatives (outside of sealing records) and they do appear to be largely detrimental to the children of divorce. And none of these bills address the real problems inherent in divorce and custody law, the propensity of the system to turn one parent against another, the damage divorce does to children, the inequity in many child support orders, the level to which government virtually subsidizes divorce, etc.... Unlike other states that are trying to turn to more collaborative solutions, Rep Clapp has suggested legislation that would "punish a party who engages in "unjustifiable conduct," including trying to find out information in a way that causes "unwarranted annoyance" or embarrassment to another party." Sounds like another reason to go to court to me and just as punitive and discretionary as Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO).


Rep. Lauri Clapp, R-Englewood, said Wednesday she learned of problems in the court system while going through her divorce, but she stressed that the bills are not a response to her situation.

"But when you talk to people who have been through the system, you find out there are abuses," Clapp said. "We want to see that people are treated fairly. That's what this is about."

Her bills - which include eliminating a 90-day waiting period and a mandatory parenting class - have lawmakers and divorce lawyers talking.

Divorce attorney Denise Mills, after reviewing the bills, said their passage would be "stepping backward."

But Clapp said a lot of men and women who divorce "suffer because of the system," and her legislation addresses that.

"I think this is pretty straightforward public policy that makes a lot of sense," she said.

The third Clapp bill contains two separate provisions. One would end a mandatory four-hour, $40 program for parents with children under the age of 18 that informs them about the impact of divorce on kids.

"I have a lot of clients who initially object to that," DiManna said, "but I don't think I've had one come back and say, 'That was a waste of time.' "

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Blogger Iguana said...

Good review. Thanks!

3:51 AM  

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