#1 Minnesota will pick up tab to counsel divorcing couples05-26-2010, 10:55 AMMinnesota will pick up tab to counsel divorcing couples
By Cheryl Wetzstein
8:37 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, 2010
The state of Minnesota will soon begin offering, at state expense, divorce reconciliation services to couples considering dissolving their marriages.
The Minnesota Couples on the Brink project was signed last week as part of an omnibus spending bill by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is often mentioned in speculation about Republican presidential tickets.
The new project will give couples an "offramp" if they find themselves on the road to divorce, by offering on a voluntary basis short-term coaching to help the husband and wife decide whether they really want to split. If a couple decides to rebuild the marriage, the project will help craft a reconciliation plan.
Pro-family advocates contend that the current court system assumes its role is to facilitate divorce, not to reconcile couples.
"The judicial system tends to increase conflict, not decrease it," said state Sen. Steve Dille, lead sponsor of the law.
But not all couples who file for divorce actually want to break up, said Mr. Dille, a Republican who helped pass several pro-marriage laws during his 24 years in the Minnesota Legislature.
William J. Doherty, a family studies professor at the University of Minnesota, surveyed about 2,500 couples who had attended a mandatory divorce education class in Hennepin County during 2008 and 2009.
In about 30 percent of cases, one spouse said they wanted the divorce while the other did not, and in about 10 percent, "both partners were open to trying again" to save their marriage, Mr. Dille said.
That 10 percent is a substantial number — about 1,500 couples a year statewide, Mr. Dille said. Divorce may certainly be the best choice for some couples, he added, but for others — if they knew more about divorce and its aftermath, "they might want to find an alternate path."
05-26-2010, 11:57 AM
Even snarky or indifferent parents living together with the kids are better than the divorce shuttle routine.
I'll be interested to see how this program works out.
05-26-2010, 12:14 PM
Nobody here thinks this is a nanny-state measure? Having the courts/state pay for marriage counseling? You know those counselors are going to end up being a bunch of flakey people like me.
05-26-2010, 12:22 PMStand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
05-26-2010, 12:47 PM
The economic ramifications of divorce are huge and they can last decades with kids. I'd also support adding a financial counseling element to this idea.
05-26-2010, 02:05 PM
Just remember that the program will likely be run by the same people who run the public assistance and housing programs! Well, actually more like the people who run the foster care and CPS programs, because those are the ones with the degrees in the right field, i.e. people like me. Bureaucrats with social work degrees.
The financial counseling Ginger mentioned probably is a good idea. I'll bet my mom would have reconsidered divorcing my dad had she known how little she would get out of him. Not that it would have been good for either of them to stay married, but my mom stayed with him as long as he did because he paid her credit card bills for all those Liz Claiborne, Donna Karan and Anne Klein clothes that she bought in the 80s.
05-26-2010, 02:21 PM
These are all areas that require the skill set found in HR settings and business relations. I mean, marriage really is a business. It's a joint economic venture with assets and expenditures, long-range planning, investments, capital, and all the rest. Couples already have the touchy-feely part established - that's why they got married in the first place. They need help with concrete skills.
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