The Minnesota Couples on the Brink Act (S.F. 2383) is designed to give couples who are thinking about divorce a way to save their marriage. The program will be offered through the University of Minnesota and paid for with $5 out of every marriage license fee.
State Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, said a University of Minnesota study shows at least 10 percent of those who file for divorce are open to trying again. “Most people assume that once you enter divorce court, you’re in an irretrievable relationship that’s going to head for divorce no matter what,” he said. “And by finding that 10 percent of the couples who, on both sides, are still interested in trying reconciliation counseling as a last-ditch effort, that’s considered a high percent, actually.”
Dr. Bill Doherty, professor at the University of Minnesota, said his research, which inspired the legislation, has shown positive results. “The conventional wisdom out there among lawyers and counselors, and probably even clergy, is that once people file for divorce, it’s over,” he said. “And that even in the faith communities, you help them with their grief. But what we’ve learned from our research and from our work with couples is that there’s still potential for a lot of marriages to be saved.”
Couples who opt for trying again will receive counseling, mentoring, referrals for services and opportunities to meet with support groups.
“This program is designed to provide additional information to the clergy and other marriage counselors throughout the state of Minnesota,” Dille said, “so they can do a better job counseling people as they move toward divorce, or maybe away from divorce.”