Children and divorce

STATEHOUSE REPORT

January 15, 1993|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Staff Writer

A bill before the General Assembly would require Marylanders seeking a divorce to attend an educational seminar on the effect it would have on their children.

Del. Tony E. Fulton, the sponsor of the measure, said its purpose was not to convince couples to reconcile but to help them understand how their children would react to the separation of their parents.

"With 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, I've seen plenty of children affected by this," the Baltimore Democrat said yesterday after a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. "My wife is a pediatrician. She sees it, too.

"Their parents don't realize what they are going through, so they act out their frustrations."

He said the program would be administered by the courts and financed by an unspecified increase in the fees collected as court costs in divorce proceedings.

Such counseling is currently required in seven Southern states, Mr. Fulton said.

Bobbi Seabolt, of the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, said her organization believes the program is needed in Maryland.

"Many parents do not understand how children deal with divorce," Ms. Seabolt said. "For a younger child, a divorce can be like a death, or in many cases, worse than a death because they feel abandoned.

"Children younger than 8, seeing their whole world totally upset, might wonder if they will lose their friends, their school, their house. Parents need to know this so they can respond appropriately."

Though no opposition was expressed to the bill, some members of the committee questioned if it were realistic to compel parties in a divorce to attend such seminars. They asked for more information about how similar programs have worked elsewhere.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.