Lost that loving feeling? 'Second chances' bill could extend divorce dissolution from 90 days to 1 year

OLYMPIA -- It's Valentine's Day but for those couples who can't seem to find that warm, fuzzy feeling anymore, they might find that not only is breaking up hard to do, it could also take a lot more time for Washington residents -- one year to be exact.

In the state of Washington, couples that file for divorce must wait 90 days before the decree is formally recognized by the court. Senate bill 5614 will be heard Friday -- the bill is seeking to amend this waiting period and extend it to one year. The bi-partisan bill is supported by conservative Democrats and Republicans.

Called the "Family Second Chances Act," the bill cites the negative impact divorce has on family and states "divorce causes poverty, juvenile delinquency, and lower scholastic achievement among children of our state." Stating that any reduction in the number of divorces in the state would benefit children, the bill seeks to empower couples with "education on nonadversarial approaches to divorce, reconciliation information and resources."

To ensure that couples seeking a divorce have such materials available to them, the bill calls for the creation of a handbook that would be provided by the county auditor when anyone applies for a marriage license as well as when a person files for divorce. The handbook would provide information on prenuptial agreements, custodial responsibilities, child support and other issues.

The bill applies to any Washington state resident, military personnel stationed in the state and those in domestic partnerships.

The one-year waiting period can be waived by the court if either person is convicted of a violent or sexual felony, threats of violence from one party against the other or against a child.