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H.B. 323





Chief Sponsor: Jim Nielson

Senate Sponsor: Mark B. Madsen

             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 prospective petitioner filing for a divorce to complete the divorce
             13      orientation course prior to the court entering any temporary orders, unless
             14      circumstances exist regarding the safety of the petitioner or the petitioner's minor
             15      child; and
             16          .    allows for the divorce orientation course to be completed through live instruction,
             17      video instruction, or through an online provider.
             18      Money Appropriated in this Bill:
             19          None
             20      Other Special Clauses:
             21          None
             22      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             23      AMENDS:
             24           30-3-11.4 , as last amended by Laws of Utah 2012, Chapter 347
             26      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             27          Section 1. Section 30-3-11.4 is amended to read:

             28           30-3-11.4. Mandatory orientation course for divorcing parties -- Purpose --
             29      Curriculum -- Exceptions.
             30          (1) There is established a mandatory divorce orientation course for all parties with
             31      minor children who file a petition for temporary separation or for a divorce. A couple with no
             32      minor children are not required, but may choose to attend the course. The purpose of the
             33      course shall be to educate parties about the divorce process and reasonable alternatives.
             34          (2) A petitioner shall attend a divorce orientation course no more than 60 days after
             35      filing a petition for divorce.
             36          (3) The court may not enter any temporary orders until the petitioner has completed the
             37      divorce orientation course, unless the court determines that an order is necessary to protect the
             38      safety of the petitioner or a minor child of the petitioner.
             39          [(3)] (4) The respondent shall attend the divorce orientation course no more than 30
             40      days after being served with a petition for divorce.
             41          [(4)] (5) The clerk of the court shall provide notice to a petitioner of the requirement
             42      for the course, and information regarding the course shall be included with the petition or
             43      motion, when served on the respondent.
             44          [(5)] (6) The divorce orientation course shall be neutral, unbiased, at least one hour in
             45      duration, and include:
             46          (a) options available as alternatives to divorce;
             47          (b) resources available from courts and administrative agencies for resolving custody
             48      and support issues without filing for divorce;
             49          (c) resources available to improve or strengthen the marriage;
             50          (d) a discussion of the positive and negative consequences of divorce;
             51          (e) a discussion of the process of divorce;
             52          (f) options available for proceeding with a divorce, including:
             53          (i) mediation;
             54          (ii) collaborative law; and
             55          (iii) litigation; and
             56          (g) a discussion of post-divorce resources.
             57          [(6)] (7) The course may be provided in conjunction with the mandatory course for
             58      divorcing parents required by Section 30-3-11.3 .

             59          [(7)] (8) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall administer the course pursuant
             60      to Title 63G, Chapter 6a, Utah Procurement Code, through private or public contracts.
             61          (9) The course may be through live instruction, video instruction, or through an online
             62      provider.
             63          [(8)] (10) Each participant shall pay the costs of the course, which may not exceed
             64      $20, to the independent contractor providing the course at the time and place of the course.
             65          (a) A fee of $5 shall be collected, as part of the course fee paid by each participant, and
             66      deposited in the Children's Legal Defense Account described in Section 51-9-408 .
             67          (b) A participant who is unable to pay the costs of the course may attend without
             68      payment and request an Affidavit of Impecuniosity from the provider to be filed with the
             69      petition or motion. The provider shall be reimbursed for its costs by the Administrative Office
             70      of the Courts. A petitioner who is later determined not to meet the qualifications for
             71      impecuniosity may be ordered to pay the costs of the course.
             72          [(9)] (11) Appropriations from the General Fund to the Administrative Office of the
             73      Courts for the divorce orientation course shall be used to pay the costs of an indigent petitioner
             74      who is determined to be impecunious as provided in Subsection [(8)] (10)(b).
             75          [(10)] (12) The Online Court Assistance Program shall include instructions with the
             76      forms for divorce which inform the petitioner of the requirement of this section.
             77          [(11)] (13) Both parties shall attend a divorce orientation course before a divorce
             78      decree may be entered, unless waived by the court. A certificate of completion constitutes
             79      evidence to the court of course completion by the parties.
             80          [(12)] (14) It shall be an affirmative defense in all divorce actions that the divorce
             81      orientation requirement was not complied with, and the action may not continue until a party
             82      has complied.
             83          [(13)] (15) The Administrative Office of the Courts shall adopt a program to evaluate
             84      the effectiveness of the mandatory educational course. Progress reports shall be provided if
             85      requested by the Judiciary Interim Committee.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 2-5-14 11:16 AM

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