Longer waiting period for divorce - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Longer waiting period for divorce

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July 10. 2006
Reported by Pam Dixon

If the "I do's" don't work out as planned, some married couples in Louisiana may have to wait longer to get a divorce. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco just signed a new law that says unless there are allegation of adultery, or physical or sexual abuse, couples with children under age 18 will have to wait a year instead of six months to get a divorce. The law is effective January first. Deacon George Carr says, "It gives them much more opportunity to work things out and think about it and even from a practical stand point to see if their living apart for a period of a year as opposed to six months to see what that's really about."

Supporters like Deacon George Carr with Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church says he is seeing a nationwide trend to preserve families. Carr says, "I think it's good that the government is involved, that the government does want to make efforts to preserve the dignity and the sanctity of the family itself."

Family court attorney Randy Fuerst has handled 5,000 divorce cases in his 25 years as an attorney. Fuerst says, "The one percent that do think about it afterwards that do reconcile they're going to reconcile regardless of what that waiting period is. Why hurt the other ones that need that freedom in order to go on with their lives to be healthier to heal the wounds of divorce which is like a death that doesn't die when you leave it open for a long period of time."

Family Court Judge Guy Bradberry says, "I have seen no data to suggest prolonging the time period is going to effectively help the family or help the couple in resolving the issues." Bradberry has presided over more than seven thousand divorce cases in his four years on the bench. Bradberry says, "Whenever you get quick resolution it assists the children and the family. Anytime you intend to prolong litigation I do know in my experience that it has not assisted the family."

One thing both supporters and opponents agree on is an important element is missing from the law, a requirement for counseling to see if things can be worked out. There's no denying the new law requiring a longer waiting period for divorce will cost couples more money in attorney fees and extended alimony payments, and these divorce cases will likely add to already backlogged court dockets. Another potential problem-- some couples may take advantage of loopholes in the law by filing a false injunction or protective order to shorten the waiting period.

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