Understanding how Oklahoma's new divorce law affects parents

Recently enacted law requires some divorcing parents to attend classes

A state law that went into effect in Novomber could have a significant impact on the divorces of many couples in Oklahoma. According to News 9, people who divorce and have minor children now have to attend classes to learn about the effect of divorce on children. Advocates for the changes say they are necessary to help reduce divorce rates in Oklahoma and to protect children. Critics, however, worry that the law may have some unintented consequences, such as putting vulnerable spouses and children in potentially dangerous situations.

Divorce and parenting

The new law, which went into effect November 1 of last year, requires couples that have children to attend classes if they have minor children. The classes cover a broad range of topics related to divorce and parenting, including co-parenting, the effect of domestic violence on children, how children tend to cope with divorce, and potential reconciliation options. According to Grand Lake News, judges were previously given the option of ordering some couples to attend the classes, but they were not considered mandatory.

Advocates for the law say that requiring divorcing parents to take classes could help lower the divorce rate in the state. They also say that education will leave parents better informed about the impact of divorce and some of the potential consequences a divorce could have on their families.

Domestic violence concerns

Some family law experts have raised concerns about the new law, especially regarding spouses and children who may be the victims of abuse. The law makes no specific exemption for domestic violence victims, although it does allow judges to exempt some people from the classes if they can show "good cause." Critics of the law worry that because it is largely left up to the judge to decide what constitutes "good cause" that the law will be applied inconsistently throughout the state.

Judges also have the option of ordering each parent to attend the classes separately. But critics again point out problems with implementing this portion of the law. They note that in rural areas there may only be one school offering the courses, which could make it impossible for parents in a high-conflict relationship to take the classes separately.

Family law concerns

Divorce is often a difficult time for families. While nobody ever plans on getting divorce, when it becomes clear that a marriage is no longer working then people preparing for divorce should get all the help they can manage. Dealing with such a difficult and serious issue requires professional advice, such as an experienced family law attorney. A qualified attorney can advise clients about how a divorce may impact them, including issues like property division and child custody. By relying on expert advice, people heading for divorce will be better prepared to meet the challenges they will face in the months and years ahead.