Before adjourning, the state legislature approved a bill that would require Iowa couples to undergo premarital counseling or wait longer to get a marriage license. People who prove they’ve gotten premarital counseling can get a marriage license in three days, but they’ll have to wait 20 days if they choose to forgo the counseling. Republican senator Neal Schuerer of Amana says it’ll reduce the divorce rate.He says statistics clearly show people who’ve taken premarital counseling are less likely to divorce or are more interested in getting counseling when they have problems. But several senate democrats argued against the bill saying the government doesn’t have the right to prod couples into premarital counseling, especially since the couples will have to pick the tab. Burlington democrat Thomas Courtney called the bill the “nuttiest thing” he’s ever seen. Courtney says the state would be asking young people in love who want to get married to go to counselors, saying in his experience counselors don’t know as much as he does, and he calls it “government in your bedroom, government in your kitchen, government in your life.” A measure that died earlier in the session would have let couples opt for counseling, and give up any option to get a no-fault divorce, as part of a “covenant marriage” declaration. The bill passed by a 33-14 vote in the Senate Tuesday also requires couples to file a parenting plan if they divorce or separate. No word yet on the governor’s intentions to sign or veto the measure.
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