06272017Headline:

Denver, Colorado

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Linda Chalat
Linda Chalat
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Cooling Off Period Proposed for Divorcing Couples

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A bill will be introduced by Colorado Republican Senator Lundgren in this new session which would require parents who have minor children and are considering divorce to first undergo educational instruction "that tells them how this impacts their children.” Then there would be a waiting period before filing for divorce.

Colorado, like all states, has a no-fault divorce system, meaning proof or allegation of wrongdoing on the part of one spouse is not required. A person can be divorced within 90 days of filing, even if the other party is opposed.

The idea for the divorce bill was pitched at a legislative conference for socially conservative state lawmakers. Chris Gersten, chairman of the Coalition for Divorce Reform, made a presentation on the impact of divorce on children and ways to slow down the process through legislation. Gersten, who worked in President George W. Bush's administration and now lives outside Boulder, said he believes at least six state legislatures will consider divorce-cooling-off bills in 2012.

Colorado legislators killed a similar proposal dubbed the "Dr. Laura" bill a decade ago. Then state Sen. Dave Schultheis invited talk-radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger to support his bill, attracting international attention and charges of hypocrisy. The family therapist is divorced and once had an affair with a married man. She responded in a letter that she was honored the measure had picked up the nickname the "Dr. Laura" bill.

The Schultheis measure originally required divorcing parents to undergo a year of counseling at their own expense to understand the impact of a breakup on children. Women's groups and domestic- violence counselors blasted the proposal. Although he modified it, he still couldn't muster enough support from fellow Republicans to get it passed.

Sen. Lundberg believes his proposal stands a better chance because it makes exceptions, such as in cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse.