Colorado is making headlines with an experimental ballot measure that proposes mandatory marriage education before a couple may wed. The syllabus would include lessons on financial management, health issues, conflict resolution, and domestic resolution.
The idea comes from a California-based group called Kids Against Divorce, who hopes to test the success of the initiative in Colorado before taking it to other states. Accordingly, they’ll need 86,105 signatures by August 4 to ensure it appears on November’s ballot.
If it passes, a couple would be required to undergo 10 hours of training in a curriculum devised by the Colorado State Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners. The number of mandatory hours increases to 20 for spouses marrying for a second time, and 30 for those walking down the aisle for the third time. Widowers, however, would be considered first-timers and those seeking civil unions wouldn’t have to take any classes at all. The couple, incidentally, would bear the full cost of the classes and the completion certificate.
As a bonus though, there would be a tax cut for couples who voluntarily undergo continuing marriage education once they’ve returned from the honeymoon.
The organization’s website claims education is the “key to success in all areas of life, even when it comes to having children,” comparing spousal and parental lessons to basic schooling. Several faith-based organizations already offer pre-marital counseling as a prerequisite to the actual ceremony, but the group has met with criticism for bringing government regulation to a rather personal matter.
“It’s another attempt to say who can and can’t be married,” Alyx Reese-Giles told The Denver Post. “So if you are poor and you can’t afford the class, then you can’t get married.”
It’s uncertain whether this proposal has the support to be voted upon come November, but counselors are invariably key members of our team and we encourage you to contact us if you’re interested in pre-marital education while it’s still optional.