In an effort to lower the rate of “preventable” divorces, a retired Georgia judge is encouraging states throughout the country to pass and implement the “Second Chances Act.” The purpose the act is to reduce the number of couples who divorce for “soft” reasons, such as communication issues or growing apart.
The act was conceived in a joint effort by retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and William J. Doherty, a family social science professor at the University of Minnesota. The authors say that the act is not designed to discourage people who file for divorce for reasons such as infidelity, abuse and addiction, but to encourage reconciliation where it is a conceivable and healthy option.
According to the authors, the purpose of the act is to protect children from the emotional trauma of divorce. Doherty says that a significant percentage of divorces occur in marriages that were happy and free of conflict just a few years or even months ago. As a result, these divorces are often the hardest on children “because their families seem stable and content, and then the bottom falls out of their world.”
While the act is not mandatory, the authors are encouraging states to consider passing some form of it. In doing so, states are urged to require parents of minor children to include divorce education classes, which would include a session on reconciliation. In addition, the authors are recommending that states set a one-year “cooling-off” period before a divorce becomes final, and to create an “early notification” program to alert one spouse that the other is considering divorce.
What do you think? Should Georgia implement a Second Chances Act?
Source: The Washington Times, “Divorce-prevention plan advises time, talk,” Cheryl Wetzstein, Oct. 23, 2011