LANSING (AP) — Couples would be encouraged to receive
premarital education and those with children required to take a
class when divorcing under legislation approved yesterday by the
state Senate.

The bills would grant couples a marriage license after three
days — the current waiting time — if they get
counseling. If they refuse, they would have to wait 28 days for the
license.

The Senate passed the premarital counseling bill 23 to 14,
mostly along party lines, despite objections from Democrats and
some Republicans who said it would intrude into people’s
lives.

The legislation went to the state House, which isn’t
expected to send the package to Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm
until representatives return to Lansing after the Nov. 2
election.

Granholm spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said the administration
agrees with only a small part of the 13-bill package, including a
bill that would allow retired clergy to provide counseling to
troubled families. But the governor has concerns with most of the
other pieces.

“She’s not on board with the majority of the
package. She feels it’s way too invasive and goes beyond
where government needs to go,” Dettloff said.

Supporters said the bills aim to strengthen marriage and, in
case of divorce, lessen its negative effects on children.

Twenty Republicans and three Democrats — Virg Bernero of
Lansing, Dennis Olshove of Warren and Mark Schauer of Battle Creek
— voted for the bill. Twelve Democrats and two Republicans
— Beverly Hammerstrom of Temperance and Shirley Johnson of
Royal Oak — opposed it. Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City) was
absent.

One bill, passed 22 to 12, would require divorcing couples with
children to complete a divorce effects program and complete a
questionnaire. There’s an exception for victims of domestic
violence. Another bill would give up to a $50 tax credit to couples
who receive premarital education.

Republicans said studies show divorce hurts society as a whole
and makes children more likely to end up in jail and struggle in
school. Taxpayers are left footing the bill for child support
enforcement, supporters said.

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