This is an important piece of legislation that I believe will help Georgia’s children. I’ve included a summary below, but you can get more information at this website: www.ChildrensHopeForFamilyAct.org. –Paul Smith, Executive Director, Citizen Impact
1) the family includes one or more minor dependent children, and
2) a parent is filing on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken (i.e., “irreconcilable differences”).
This legislation does not apply for divorces filed on any other grounds, as noted below. If the two above conditions apply, the parents will be required to participate in eight hours of face to face divorce education classes (online modules where necessary). The classes will provide information on the effects of divorce on children and adults, teach research-based skills in the areas of communication, conflict resolution and financial management, and also provide a list of resources, services, and other available tools that help strengthen marriages.
• As mentioned above, exceptions are made for a parent who is physically abused, abandoned for one year, married to a partner who is incarcerated for two years, or married to someone addicted to alcohol or drugs who refuses to seek treatment and rehabilitation. These provisions are already a part of Georgia law.
• After completing the initial four hour portion of classes, the participants would then be required to delay the filing of a divorce petition for at least 45 days, providing a period for discernment that may serve as an opportunity for reflection and reconciliation. The remaining four hours of class would be completed if the divorce process is continued, and a divorce could be granted one year following the initiation of the classes.
• The legislation is budget neutral, as the divorcing parties will pay for the divorce education as they are currently required to do at the county level.
A word from Representative Jason Spencer, the bill sponsor:
“I have been blessed to serve as a state representative for the past three and a half years, and I am always interested in pursuing ways we can strengthen Georgia families, especially as it pertains to the children. After all, it is the children who really suffer the true consequences of divorce. The Children’s Hope for Family Act will reach out to serve families, and I am proud to sponsor this bill because the state has a compelling interest in keeping families together and reduce the risk of poverty to children that divorce potentially creates. I hope you will join me in bringing a brighter future to our children and our state.”