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Bill cuts down wait time for Utah divorces

(Scott Winterton, KSL)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — A new bill at the Legislature could have a big effect on divorces in Utah. Right now, couples need to wait 90 days before a divorce is official, but SB25 would decrease that waiting period to 30 days.

Sen. Todd Weiler is sponsoring the bill. He believes currently, the 90-day waiting period is hurting people more than it's helping.

"I think by reducing the 90-day waiting period to 30 days we're allowing adults to make adult decisions," he said.

For the past several decades, couples have had to wait three months before a divorce could be final. The primary reason is that it gives them a chance to change their mind. But Weiler says that just isn't happening.

"I have 10 years experience as a divorce attorney and I never saw the waiting period as helping anybody," Weiler said. "I never saw any of my clients on the 89th day call me up and say, 'Stop the presses, we've worked everything out.' It just doesn't happen that way."

Weiler was part of a two-year study committee, commissioned by the courts, to look at the 90-day waiting period.

"This committee after two years of studying the divorce process unanimously recommended that the waiting period be waived because it's not helping people and in fact in many cases, people feel punished," Weiler said.

Weiler's original bill sought to do away with the divorce waiting period, but was amended to include a shortened wait time before it eventually passed. Weiler said he may try again in the future to eliminate the waiting period altogether.

Last year, more than 13,000 divorce petitions were filed in Utah. Utah is one of 22 states that has a wait time for divorce; the other 28 states do not.

"What I find interesting is there no data to show that the divorce rate is higher in the 28 states that don't have a waiting period or lower in the 22 states that do have a waiting period," Weiler said.

SB25 has already passed the House and the Senate, but not without some pushback.

"There were some people that were very supportive and some people that really pushed back and said, 'Oh no, this 90-day waiting period, we've got to keep that, it's working.' And I'm like, 'show me how it's working' and nobody did," Weiler said.

SB25 will now go to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. Sen. Weiler will be meeting with him this week to explain his side because he said he knows the governor will get some pressure to veto it.

Tania Mashburn

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