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H.B. 290





Chief Sponsor: Jim Nielson

Senate Sponsor: ____________

             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill requires a prospective petitioner for divorce to attend the mandatory divorce
             10      orientation course before filing a petition for divorce.
             11      Highlighted Provisions:
             12          This bill:
             13          .    requires a prospective petitioner for divorce to complete the mandatory divorce
             14      orientation course before filing a petition for divorce;
             15          .    requires the respondent to complete the mandatory divorce orientation course within
             16      30 days of receipt of a petition for divorce;
             17          .    eliminates the waiver of the 90-day waiting requirement for parties who complete
             18      the mandatory divorce education course; and
             19          .    makes technical corrections.
             20      Money Appropriated in this Bill:
             21          None
             22      Other Special Clauses:
             23          None
             24      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             25      AMENDS:
             26          30-3-11.4, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2011, Chapter 51
             27          30-3-15.3, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 3

             28          30-3-18, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2011, Chapter 297
             29          51-9-408, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2010, Chapter 218
             31      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             32          Section 1. Section 30-3-11.4 is amended to read:
             33           30-3-11.4. Mandatory orientation course for divorcing parties -- Purpose --
             34      Curriculum -- Exceptions.
             35          (1) There is established a mandatory divorce orientation course for all parties with
             36      minor children who file a petition for temporary separation or for a divorce. A couple with no
             37      minor children are not required, but may choose to [attend] take the course. The purpose of the
             38      course shall be to educate parties about the divorce process and reasonable alternatives. The
             39      course shall be provided free of charge.
             40          (2) A prospective petitioner shall [attend] complete a divorce orientation course [no
             41      more than 60 days after] before filing a petition for divorce.
             42          (3) The respondent shall [attend] complete the divorce orientation course [no more
             43      than] within 30 days [after] of being served with a petition for divorce.
             44          (4) The clerk of the court shall provide notice to a petitioner of the requirement for the
             45      course, and information regarding the course shall be included with the petition or motion,
             46      when served on the respondent.
             47          (5) The divorce orientation course shall be neutral, unbiased, at least one hour in
             48      duration, and include:
             49          (a) options available as alternatives to divorce;
             50          (b) resources available from courts and administrative agencies for resolving custody
             51      and support issues without filing for divorce;
             52          (c) resources available to improve or strengthen the marriage;
             53          (d) a discussion of the positive and negative consequences of divorce;
             54          (e) a discussion of the process of divorce;
             55          (f) options available for proceeding with a divorce, including:
             56          (i) mediation;
             57          (ii) collaborative law; and
             58          (iii) litigation; and

             59          (g) a discussion of post-divorce resources.
             60          (6) The course may be provided in conjunction with the mandatory course for
             61      divorcing parents required by Section 30-3-11.3 .
             62          (7) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall administer the course pursuant to
             63      Title 63G, Chapter 6, Utah Procurement Code, through private or public contracts. The course
             64      may be through live instruction, video instruction, or through an online provider.
             65          [(8) Each participant shall pay the costs of the course, which may not exceed $20, to
             66      the independent contractor providing the course at the time and place of the course.]
             67          [(a) A fee of $5 shall be collected, as part of the course fee paid by each participant,
             68      and deposited in the Children's Legal Defense Account described in Section 51-9-408 .]
             69          [(b) A participant who is unable to pay the costs of the course may attend without
             70      payment and request an Affidavit of Impecuniosity from the provider to be filed with the
             71      petition or motion. The provider shall be reimbursed for its costs by the Administrative Office
             72      of the Courts. A petitioner who is later determined not to meet the qualifications for
             73      impecuniosity may be ordered to pay the costs of the course.]
             74          [(9) Appropriations from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the Courts
             75      for the divorce orientation course shall be used to pay the costs of an indigent petitioner who is
             76      determined to be impecunious as provided in Subsection (8)(b).]
             77          [(10)] (8) The Online Court Assistance Program shall include instructions with the
             78      forms for divorce which inform the petitioner of the requirement of this section.
             79          [(11)] (9) Both parties shall attend a divorce orientation course before a divorce decree
             80      may be entered, unless waived by the court. A certificate of completion constitutes evidence to
             81      the court of course completion by the parties.
             82          [(12)] (10) It shall be an affirmative defense in all divorce actions that the divorce
             83      orientation requirement was not complied with, and the action may not continue until a party
             84      has complied.
             85          [(13)] (11) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall adopt a program to evaluate
             86      the effectiveness of the mandatory educational course. Progress reports shall be provided if
             87      requested [by] to the Judiciary Interim Committee.
             88          Section 2. Section 30-3-15.3 is amended to read:
             89           30-3-15.3. Commissioners -- Powers.

             90          Commissioners shall:
             91          (1) secure compliance with court orders;
             92          (2) require [attendance at] completion of the mandatory course as provided in Section
             93      30-3-11.3 ;
             94          (3) serve as judge pro tempore, master or referee on:
             95          (a) assignment of the court; and
             96          (b) with the written consent of the parties:
             97          (i) orders to show cause where no contempt is alleged;
             98          (ii) default divorces where the parties have had marriage counseling but there has been
             99      no reconciliation;
             100          (iii) uncontested actions under Title 78B, Chapter 15, Utah Uniform Parentage Act;
             101          (iv) actions under Title 78B, Chapter 12, Utah Child Support Act; and
             102          (v) actions under Title 78B, Chapter 14, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act; and
             103          (4) represent the interest of children in divorce or annulment actions, and the parties in
             104      appropriate cases.
             105          Section 3. Section 30-3-18 is amended to read:
             106           30-3-18. Waiting period for hearing after filing for divorce -- Exemption -- Use of
             107      counseling and education services not to be construed as condonation or promotion.
             108          (1) Unless the court, for good cause shown and set forth in the findings, otherwise
             109      orders, no hearing for decree of divorce shall be held by the court until 90 days shall have
             110      elapsed from the filing of the complaint, but the court may make interim orders as may be just
             111      and equitable.
             112          [(2) The 90-day period as provided in Subsection (1) does not apply in any case where
             113      both parties have completed the mandatory educational course for divorcing parents as
             114      provided in Section 30-3-11.3 .]
             115          [(3)] (2) The use of counseling, mediation, and education services provided under this
             116      chapter may not be construed as condoning the acts that may constitute grounds for divorce on
             117      the part of either spouse nor of promoting divorce.
             118          Section 4. Section 51-9-408 is amended to read:
             119           51-9-408. Children's Legal Defense Account.
             120          (1) There is created a restricted account within the General Fund known as the

             121      Children's Legal Defense Account.
             122          (2) The purpose of the Children's Legal Defense Account is to provide for programs
             123      that protect and defend the rights, safety, and quality of life of children.
             124          (3) The Legislature shall appropriate money from the account for the administrative
             125      and related costs of the following programs:
             126          (a) implementing the Mandatory Educational Course on Children's Needs for
             127      Divorcing Parents relating to the effects of divorce on children as provided in Sections 30-3-4 ,
             128      30-3-7 , 30-3-10.3 , 30-3-11.3 , 30-3-15.3 , and 30-3-18 [, and the Mediation Pilot Program -
             129      Child Custody or Parent-time as provided in Sections 30-3-15.3 and 30-3-18 ];
             130          (b) implementing the use of guardians ad litem as provided in Sections 30-3-5.2 ,
             131      78A-2-227 , 78A-6-321 , 78A-6-902 , and 78B-3-102 ; the training of guardians ad litem and
             132      volunteers as provided in Section 78A-6-902 ; and termination of parental rights as provided in
             133      Sections 78A-6-117 , 78A-6-118 , and 78A-6-1103 , and Title 78A, Chapter 6, Part 5,
             134      Termination of Parental Rights Act. This account may not be used to supplant funding for the
             135      guardian ad litem program in the juvenile court as provided in Section 78A-6-902 ; and
             136          (c) implementing and administering the Expedited Parent-time Enforcement Program
             137      as provided in Section 30-3-38 .
             138          (4) The following withheld fees shall be allocated only to the Children's Legal Defense
             139      Account and used only for the purposes provided in Subsections (3)(a) through (c):
             140          (a) the additional $10 fee withheld on every marriage license issued in the state of Utah
             141      as provided in Section 17-16-21 ; and
             142          (b) a fee of $4 shall be withheld from the existing civil filing fee collected on any
             143      complaint, affidavit, or petition in a civil, probate, or adoption matter in every court of record.
             144          (5) The Division of Finance shall allocate the money described in Subsection (4) from
             145      the General Fund to the Children's Legal Defense Account.
             146          (6) Any funds in excess of $200,000 remaining in the restricted account as of June 30
             147      of any fiscal year shall lapse into the General Fund.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-23-12 3:04 PM

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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