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Do mandatory waiting periods reduce rates of divorce?

For many Colorado residents, the realization that their marriage was heading toward a conclusion was readily apparent for some time prior to the paperwork actually being filed. Few people throw in the towel on a marriage without a significant amount of deliberation, as well as plenty of work to make the relationship better. In some states, however, mandatory waiting periods prevent spouses from obtaining a divorce in a timely manner, despite the amount of time they have already put into trying to save their union.

One state is currently debating legislation that would shorten the mandatory waiting period for a divorce from one year to six months. That proposed change is being heralded by some as a win for individual spouses, while being decried by others as a loss for the traditional family structure. Regardless of where an individual sits on the subject, it is important to consider the ramifications that a lengthy waiting period could impose on spouses.

To be certain, some couples will use a mandatory waiting period to buckle down and work on their marriage. There will be some marriages that can be saved by a commitment to going to counseling, making efforts to reconnect and strengthening bonds between spouses. However, to create a mandatory period of time for these efforts to occur ignores the fact that many couples will have already tried these and other remedies for years prior to actually filing for divorce. In those cases, additional time is not likely to make a difference in the eventual outcome.

It should also be noted that there are many marriages in which no amount of "work" will make things better. That includes unions where domestic violence is a factor, or where repeated adultery has destroyed trust within the marriage. In cases where there is no good path forward, many people believe that placing an obstacle in the road to divorce only serves to further damage one or both spouses. For those in Colorado who feel strongly about this issue, it is important to follow the progress that other states are making in terms of mandatory waiting periods.  

Source:, "Bill to shorten Louisiana's divorce 'cooling-off' period stirs debate", Jim Mustian, April 22, 2017

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