Although waiting periods of various duration for divorce exist in some states, many others – like Minnesota – currently have no waiting period. A recently-introduced bill seeks to change this by amending current law to add a two year waiting period for “contested dissolutions involving minor children.” This would substantially alter present law and re-insert an element of fault into Minnesota divorce proceedings.
Sponsored by four Republican state senators, the bill does suspend the waiting period if a court finds one or more of the following: adultery; domestic abuse; refusal to seek or comply with chemical dependency treatment or aftercare; or desertion by one of the parties for a period of two years or more. The court could also grant an immediate dissolution if, during the waiting period, it finds that one of these grounds has occurred.
No companion bill has been introduced in the Minnesota House and its chances of passage appear slim. Nonetheless, it does raise concerns. For example, if someone with minor children seeks a divorce and the other party disputes it, this bill would seem to encourage the person seeking the divorce to have an affair (or claim to have had one) to circumvent the waiting period.
Few people would suggest that divorce is generally beneficial for kids, but dragging the process out for an additional two years would seem unlikely to help the situation. The main beneficiaries may end up being attorneys who will end up with greater billable hours.