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H.B. 323 Enrolled

             1     

DIVORCE ORIENTATION COURSE TIMING

             2     
2014 GENERAL SESSION

             3     
STATE OF UTAH

             4     
Chief Sponsor: Jim Nielson

             5     
Senate Sponsor: Mark B. Madsen

             6     
             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill amends provisions of the mandatory divorce orientation course.
             10      Highlighted Provisions:
             11          This bill:
             12          .    requires a party to a divorce to complete the divorce orientation course prior to the
             13      court hearing any temporary orders; and
             14          .    allows for the divorce orientation course to be completed through live instruction,
             15      video instruction, or through an online provider.
             16      Money Appropriated in this Bill:
             17          None
             18      Other Special Clauses:
             19          This bill takes effect on July 1, 2014.
             20      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             21      AMENDS:
             22           30-3-11.4 , as last amended by Laws of Utah 2012, Chapter 347
             23     
             24      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             25          Section 1. Section 30-3-11.4 is amended to read:
             26           30-3-11.4. Mandatory orientation course for divorcing parties -- Purpose --
             27      Curriculum -- Exceptions.
             28          (1) There is established a mandatory divorce orientation course for all parties with
             29      minor children who file a petition for temporary separation or for a divorce. A couple with no


             30      minor children are not required, but may choose to attend the course. The purpose of the
             31      course shall be to educate parties about the divorce process and reasonable alternatives.
             32          (2) A petitioner shall attend a divorce orientation course no more than 60 days after
             33      filing a petition for divorce.
             34          (3) With the exception of temporary restraining orders pursuant to Rule 65, Utah Rules
             35      of Civil Procedures, a party may file, but the court may not hear, temporary orders until the
             36      party seeking temporary orders has completed the divorce orientation course.
             37          [(3)] (4) The respondent shall attend the divorce orientation course no more than 30
             38      days after being served with a petition for divorce.
             39          [(4)] (5) The clerk of the court shall provide notice to a petitioner of the requirement
             40      for the course, and information regarding the course shall be included with the petition or
             41      motion, when served on the respondent.
             42          [(5)] (6) The divorce orientation course shall be neutral, unbiased, at least one hour in
             43      duration, and include:
             44          (a) options available as alternatives to divorce;
             45          (b) resources available from courts and administrative agencies for resolving custody
             46      and support issues without filing for divorce;
             47          (c) resources available to improve or strengthen the marriage;
             48          (d) a discussion of the positive and negative consequences of divorce;
             49          (e) a discussion of the process of divorce;
             50          (f) options available for proceeding with a divorce, including:
             51          (i) mediation;
             52          (ii) collaborative law; and
             53          (iii) litigation; and
             54          (g) a discussion of post-divorce resources.
             55          [(6)] (7) The course may be provided in conjunction with the mandatory course for
             56      divorcing parents required by Section 30-3-11.3 .
             57          [(7)] (8) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall administer the course pursuant


             58      to Title 63G, Chapter 6a, Utah Procurement Code, through private or public contracts.
             59          (9) The course may be through live instruction, video instruction, or through an online
             60      provider.
             61          [(8)] (10) Each participant shall pay the costs of the course, which may not exceed
             62      [$20] $30, to the independent contractor providing the course at the time and place of the
             63      course. A petitioner who attends a live instruction course within 30 days of filing may not be
             64      charged more than $15 for the course. A respondent who attends a live instruction course
             65      within 30 days of being served with a petition for divorce may not be charged more than $15
             66      for the course.
             67          (a) A fee of $5 shall be collected, as part of the course fee paid by each participant, and
             68      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)] (11) Appropriations from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the
             75      Courts for the divorce orientation course shall be used to pay the costs of an indigent petitioner
             76      who is determined to be impecunious as provided in Subsection [(8)] (10)(b).
             77          [(10)] (12) 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)] (13) Both parties shall attend a divorce orientation course before a divorce
             80      decree may be entered, unless waived by the court. A certificate of completion constitutes
             81      evidence to the court of course completion by the parties.
             82          [(12)] (14) 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)] (15) 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 the Judiciary Interim Committee.
             88          Section 2. Effective date.
             89          This bill takes effect on July 1, 2014.


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