Montana Family Law Legislative Bill Update – Marriage Counseling Bill Continues OnMarybeth Sampsel
In a previous post, I discussed a bill introduced in the Montana Legislature this session that could radically affect the requirements for dissolution of marriage in Montana. The bill, if passed, would require divorcing parties with minor children to undergo marriage counseling before a Montana court could make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Currently, a court can make a finding a marriage is irretrievably broken based on the testimony of one or both parties and no counseling is required.
Yesterday, the bill made it through the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee with a few changes. While the Judiciary Committee included an exception for those that have already undergone counseling prior to filing for dissolution, there remains some significant problems with the practical aspects of the bill. Most significantly problematic is the difference in the new statute between a situation where the parties agree the marriage is irretrievably broken and a situation where only one party claims the marriage is irretrievably broken. Under the current version of the bill, counseling would only be required if BOTH parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, when only one party makes the claim, no counseling requirement is imposed. I assume this loophole is an oversight, but it will be interesting to see what, if anything changes. Read the most recent version of the bill here.