The recent bills being passed and set to become effective this year have been big news in Family Law, and, incidentally, have become a hot button for debate. Of the new laws, effective October 1, 2018, Senate Bill 120, regarding Divorce on Grounds of Mutual Consent, concerning Parties with Minor Children, is a tetchy subject with some Southern Maryland lawyers.
First, as a recap, SB120 will allow parties with minor children to have a mutual consent divorce. Before, if both parties had children in common in the marriage, this type of divorce was not an option if the parties were looking for a no-fault absolute divorce, without the year wait in separate homes and finances. The new law will remove one of the four requirements, with SB96 removing a second requirement to be present at the Divorce Hearing. This would make a divorce obtainable with less delays.
But some lawyers with a focus on Family Law do not agree with this easier accessibility.
Of course, the issue began with a simple question, regarding why Governor Larry Hogan did not sign the law in question. This bill became law without the Governor’s signature, in accordance with Article II, Section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution. The bill passed, with the House voting 99-33 and the Senate voting 33-14.
Why would he not have signed the bill, if it was not controversial?
This touches on some beliefs of the traditional family values and that divorce harms the children, the parents, and both families involved, along with society at large, due to the idea of a ‘broken home breaking society.’ Statistics do show that intact families have children that have better physical, emotional, and educational well-being than those in divorced families, according to an article titled, ‘The impact of family structure on the health of children: Effects of divorce,’ in The Linacre Quarterly completed in 2014 by Jane Anderson.
However, some have the differing belief that divorce is not corrupting family values but is good and has its uses. Divorce allows members of a family to get out of unhealthy or abusive relationships. A divorce may permit an end to successful and unsuccessful relationships alike, but it allows both parties to make the decision that they consider the best for them and their family unit. Staying married rather than going opposite ways is a choice, and not everyone has their happily ever after. The ideals of relationships being forever do not always turn out to be true.
Objectively, it is not divorce that is negative, but the conflict and stress within the family, the decrease in family income after a divorce, or both or one of the parties being without the skills to co-parent during the marriage or after the divorce, the strain of arguments and lack of respect towards each other and confining all of this within the household during the marriage; this is what harms everyone involved. Less time in this confinement due to a faster divorce decree may need further study to determine the impact.
Being of that middle ground generation in which empathy can be found from both sides of this debate, the bill is passed, regardless of opinions on the matter. Values are changing, in which we are marrying later in life and having fewer children. You may or may not view the passing of this bill as controversial. The debate on giving easier access to divorce will continue.
Nevertheless, during the process of divorce, both parties may go through co-parenting classes, Mediation, or that yearlong Separation. This may give them time apart or together to learn the coping skills needed or to realize they can work through things. This Mutual Consent Divorce does not offer that time of reflection, and it is because both parties mutually consent to the divorce. For their own reasons, they want to end the marriage, and are seeking this resolution. If both parties can come up with an agreement in caring for their children and in splitting everything, then they are now going to be legally granted a divorce. This is, if they meet the remaining requirements.
Fanning Law, LLC Can Help
We assist individuals and families with family law issues and other legal concerns in Southern Maryland, Washington DC, and throughout the region. For more information about how Fanning Law, LLC can help you and your family, contact Bill Fanning at Fanning Law, LLC - The Offices of William C. Fanning, Jr. - 301.934.3620 or at www.fanninglawllc.com.