Thinking about a quick divorce in Arizona? Some legislators would like that make that option a thing of the past.
State lawmakers recently considered a bill that would extend the waiting period for Arizona divorces to 180 days. This is three times longer than the current 60-day period couples must wait after filing for separation.
The purpose behind this waiting period would be to give couples time to cool off, reconsider their options and verify that divorce is the only solution to their marital problems.
For many of those considering divorce, 60 days seems like more than enough time. Indeed, many have already attempted to find alternative solutions before filing. Still, the bill's supporters claim that, with the longer waiting period, couples will be more likely to find common ground, increasing the chances for reconciliation.
In early April, the bill was voted down in the Arizona House. It was revised, however, to allow either member of a divorcing couple to extend the current 60-day waiting up to an additional 120 days. Whether that version succeeds remains to be seen.
The bill remains a contentious topic and many disagree with the law's premise.
Instead of saving marriages, critics point out that prolonged waiting periods could turn relatively peaceful divorces into stressed, nasty procedures. It would put a strain on couples and, if there are children involved, could make an already tough environment even worse.
Family law attorney William Bishop recently told 12 News that, while the bill is based on good intentions, it is unlikely to salvage marriages where people have already made the decision to file divorce proceedings.
Additionally, critics have pointed to cases involving domestic abuse and asked whether the state can really justify leaving abused spouses in those situations.
But saving marriage is only part of the equation.
Both of the bill's sponsors, House Republican Nancy Barto and Senate Republican Linda Gray, point out that, in addition to saving marriages, a longer waiting period would save Arizona money.
Divorce costs the couple involved, but it also generally ends up costing the state as well. Most of this money is spent on support programs for divorcees who find themselves with significantly lower household incomes and no one with whom to split the bills.
If revised bill becomes law, it will be more important than ever for people going through divorce to seek the assistance of an experienced Arizona family law attorney. A good divorce lawyer will help smooth the transition during the additional time requirement, saving money and stress.