North Carolina’s Health Marriage Act Controversy

Two republican lawmakers in North Carolina are pushing a bill to make it harder for couples to get divorced. The Healthy Marriage Act, supported by senators Austin Allran and Warren Daniel, are aiming to require a two-year waiting period before a couple can get divorced.

The current legislation now requires a one-year period in which the couple must live separate and apart, but the new bill would not require the couple to live apart for the two year period. Another part of the bill would require counseling which focuses on things like handling conflict and communication. If the couple has children there is an additional four hour consultation about the impact of divorce on a child.

The new marriage-saving legislation proposal is in response to the divorce rate in the state which is the 19th highest in the country. The two senators claim that the divorce laws are currently to lax, and need to be stricter, making couples less likely to separate.

Concerns have been raised over this proposed bill, specifically regarding issues such as domestic or substance abuse. If this was signed into law, it could spell out danger for someone who is living with trouble at home. Senator Allran told reporters that he may eventually add an exception for those sorts of circumstances in the bill.

Another criticism the bill has encountered is a question of where money to fund the counseling services would come from. The bill must first go through the Committee on Rules and Operations then a Senate Judiciary Committee afterwards to pass.

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