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New Divorce Bill Ripe For Abuse and Bias
February 23, 2005
by Tony Zizza

A new divorce bill in Georgia is ripe for abuse and bias. It's actually an amended bill. The original bill would extend the waiting period for an uncontested divorce from 30 days to 120 days for a couple without children and 180 days for a couple with children.

The amendment waives any waiting periods if one spouse (almost always the wife) has "obtained a protective order or alleged abuse in a formal statement." Common sense dictates that judges do not make spouses stay lock and key in a marriage if there is real abuse going on. Women who are being abused have a plethora of services available to them if they are being abused. On the other hand, men will just keep it to themselves because they have nowhere to turn.

Now, on the surface I agree with Sen. Mitch Seabaugh's (R-Sharpsburg) measure to extend waiting periods. Couples with or without children need to exhaust all remedies before making a divorce - final. What really spins my head around is the requirement that all couples with children must take educational classes on "the impact of separation or divorce on kids."

Who will teach these classes? How much are they going to cost? The ones available at courts right now are a joke. This all strikes me as Orwellian and reminds me of the sissification of grown adults. Or mental health screening. Why is the government in control of the divorce process? The government won't even take a strong stand against the drugging of our children with drugs like Zoloft.

Getting back to why the bill had to be amended, let's just be honest and admit Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) and Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) bowed down to domestic violence pressure groups like the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. Spouses (almost always the wife) will now be allowed, thanks to Sen. Preston Smith, to "submit a confidential affidavit to the court alleging domestic violence in lieu of a public hearing."

This is great news for the billion dollar divorce industry. The fact of the matter is domestic violence and child abuse do not run nearly as rampant as we're led to be believe, but now you can be sure false allegations of abuse will be flying all over the place even faster. This is why good intentions, such as trying to put a temporary hold on divorces, are always worse than the original problem once put into play by the government.

I say if this new amended divorce bill is something both Senators Smith and Seabaugh, along with Rebecca Bukant, executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, think will keep families together, they're not thinking straight. Or seeing the big picture clearly.

The real epidemic of false allegations will grow even wider, and no one will dare introduce laws that will punish those who make false allegations the same as a real abuser. Families have been split apart by false allegations, but all politicians and pressure groups do when the legislature is in session is reinvent the wheel and play politics. It's pathetic and dangerous.

Believe me, my heart goes out to the victims of real domestic violence of both genders. Unfortunately, we have politicized the process of divorce, so abuse and bias will be even stronger now. Couples will think, "Ok, I'll just sign something that says I'm being abused, then I'm out of the marriage."

I challenge both Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) and Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome) to put some teeth in the amended divorce bill. That is, if you lie about being the victim of domestic violence, you will be sitting in jail. Period. End of discussion. If there are no teeth in this amended divorce bill, it is ripe for abuse and bias. And that's absolutely disgraceful.

Tony Zizza serves as Vice President of the State of Georgia for the organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education.

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