New law requiring divorce school for Oklahomans

New law requiring divorce school for Oklahomans

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OKLAHOMA - Census numbers show Oklahoma has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

But some legislators are helping a new law could help couples with children rethink what's at stake before splitting up for good.

State Senator Rob Standridge, (R) District 15, says anyone whose is or has ever been married knows it isn't always heaven on earth.

"There's a lot of things that happen in a marriage that I think I'm sure for some couples leave them wondering if the next day they are still going to be married," says Standridge.

Senator Stanridge has been happily married for 22 years and says once you have children as a married couple, divorce should be the last possible option on the table.

"When kids come along it's no longer about the parent," says Standridge.

That's why he worked with several lawmakers this legislative session to sponsor a bill requiring couples seeking a divorce to go through an education program which costs between $15 to $60 dollars before they can split up.

"Even if it makes the parents not the happiest couple in the world if it's the best for that child, the child that they brought in the world, is it worth a little bit of sacrifice? I think so," says Stanridge.

The couple doesn't have to attend the class together and it would have to be taken within 45 days of receiving a temporary order from the court.

The requirement is already in place in several counties but as of Wednesday it became a state law.

Attorney David Slane thinks lawmakers are missing the boat when it comes to this new law.

"I think the reality is if you want to avoid divorces you ought to be doing the counseling before you get married," says Slane.

The law does allow for good cause exemptions which are up to a judge but Slane sees it as government overreach in some ways that will ultimately clog up the legal system.

"What you are really doing is your inhibiting people's ability to move on with their lives and keep in mind some people are in marriages where they need to get out and their kids need to get out," says Slane.

The law takes effect on November 1st.
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