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Should the Utah divorce class come sooner in the process?

As part of the divorce process in Utah, parties are required to attend an orientation class for parents that lasts one hour. Currently, the class is taken toward the end of the divorce proceedings. Some lawmakers want to move the course to the beginning instead.

In fact, there are those that think the class should be taken before the divorce petition can be filed. However, under the state constitution, everyone is entitled to have access to the court system. Requiring the parties to take the class before being able to file a divorce petition is sure to be challenged at some point.

There are practical concerns regarding this suggestion as well. For instance, it can take time for a victim of domestic violence to build up the courage to file for divorce. Taking a class before filing the petition could potentially expose that person's intentions prematurely and potentially put that person at risk. Proponents of this change want to include a domestic violence waiver, but it would require certain proof that some victims may not have.

Another concern is for the court clerks that will undoubtedly receive the brunt of the fallout regarding such a change. People are not always in the best of moods when they are filing a divorce petition. Being turned away due to this requirement to take a class could only make things worse.

Filing for divorce may be one of the most difficult tasks any Utah resident may ever do. Keeping up with changes in the law regarding issues such as child custody and support, property division and spousal maintenance can be a challenge. Couples considering divorce may benefit from remaining updated on any changes to the law that could affect any pending or contemplated divorce proceedings.

Source:, Divorce 101: Change proposed in Utah divorce class, Dan Harrie, Dec. 12, 2013

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