October 31, 2011 12:05 Age: 2 yrs

Yearlong Waiting Period Could Help Save Marriages, Sears 80L says

In an era where half of U.S. marriages end in divorce, could a yearlong waiting period be an idea worth supporting?

Yes, especially when children are involved, says former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears 80L in a Washington Post editorial, written in support of the Second Chances Act. Sears, an Emory University trustee, also was interviewed on Oct. 28 by CNN about the waiting period.

“A one-year waiting period would ensure that the law is not moving couples—who are often at one of the most intense emotional periods of their lives—more rapidly toward divorce than perhaps they intended or wanted,” the Oct. 20 opinion piece reads. Sears’ co-author was University of Minnesota Professor William J. Doherty, director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project.

Presently, 46 states require waiting periods of six months or less, including 10 states with no waiting period. In contrast, three-year waiting periods are common in Western Europe, according Sears’ and Doherty’s supporting research, published by the Brookings Institute earlier this month.

“No other Western nation has waiting periods as short as the United States,” they wrote.

“We propose a modest reform that U.S. state legislatures can enact: the Second Chances Act, which combines a minimum, one-year waiting period for divorce with education about the option of reconciliation.”

Related links:

Read The Washington Post editorial

Second Chances: A Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce

Sears CNN interview


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