Bill introduced to extend divorce waiting period



OLYMPIA, Wash. - A new bill has been introduced to extend the waiting period for finalizing a divorce.


Currently, the wait time for a divorce to finalize in the state is 90 days, but the bill would extend the time to one year.


In 2011, about 26,000 couples in Washington got divorced.


The new bill is aimed at lowering the number by implementing a one-year wait time for divorces to be final.


“When you make something easier to do, it becomes more common and we all again, recognize that there is a social cost to that,” said bill supporter Joseph Bacholm.


A statistic shows that of the 10 states with the highest divorce rates, nine do not have a waiting period.


Opponents fear a long wait time means domestic violence victims will suffer longer too.


The way the bill is written if a person in a marriage has been convicted of a violent or sexual offense or of a threat, the wait period can be waived.


“In terms of the exceptions in the bill, they are very narrow and they require a felony conviction,” said Grace Huang who opposes the bill.


Also, many victims never report abuse.


“They know for themselves that if they were to raise that issue in the divorce that the abuse would escalate,” said Huang.


Not all divorces stem from domestic violence, and sometimes people change their minds.


“That comes with some time realizing that, boy, human being do have flaws. No one’s perfect,” said marriage and family therapist Pamela Scherbrooke.


The goal of the bill is to save marriages, but supporters said fewer divores would save the state money.