Crouch Comments on Pre-Marriage Counseling bill
Fri Jan 28 10:39:41 EST 2000
from: Smart Marriages
John Crouch cc'd me in his response to legislators asking his advice
on the following. I agree with him. He may be the expert on
divorce reform legislation, but John is on top of premarital
preparation legislation as well. -diane sollee
---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
Date: 1/28/00 12:39 AM
Received: 1/28/00 9:27 AM
From: John Crouch, crouch at patriot.net
This is the best counseling bill I have seen, and I would recommend
supporting it as prominently as possible. It is far better than the
Florida bill in that it does not impose any kind of regulation or
licensing on the clergy or on other marriage education providers. That is
good, because they are already subject to private licensing, training and
accreditation by the marriage education programs whose curricula they
teach, and/or by their denominations. Also, this bill focuses on the
kinds of marital education that people need most, and that marriage
educators are ready to provide, rather than mandating new courses in high
schools, or booklets written by committees of lawyers. - John Crouch
A few comments, though--
1. If it can be passed as is, great. But if members insist that there be
more definitions on who can do the counseling, I strongly recommend that
this be done with the language in my model premarital education bill
(below). This is because there is not any existing statute that licenses
or defines premarital educators, and the temptation for legislators in
most other states has been to use statutes on family therapists or
marriage counselors -- definitions which are totally inappropriate for
premarital training or marriage education. What therapists and "marriage
counselors" do is very different from what this bill is about, although
it is true that some therapists and counselors have begun offering
marriage education courses.
The language in my model bill is NOT better than that in HB 57. The
language is in my model bill because it attempts to provide a substitute
for the hamhanded licensing language of most covenant marriage or
counseling bills -- but no language at all is better, assuming the clerks
will act in good faith, with commen sense and reasonable competence. I
would only add the language from part (a) of my bill if you thought the
clerks would unreasonably exclude some qualified counselors.
2. The $8 incentive is negligible, although maybe its real value is in
the publicity. The remaining $2 may or may not be worth collecting,
fiscally. It's probably easier to waive the whole $10.
3. I wouldn't lightly mess with the wording of such a good bill, but if
you are inclined to, you may be interested in subsections c(i) and (ii)
of my model Act (below), which have the Clerks mention premarital
education to everyone who gets married.
- john crouch
HOUSE BILL 57
Unofficial Copy 2000 Regular Session
By: Delegates Leopold, Clagett, Busch, Greenip, Love, Rosso, Baldwin,
D'Amato, Sophocleus, Rzepkowski, and Owings
Introduced and read first time: January 12, 2000
Assigned to: Judiciary
AN ACT concerning Anne Arundel County - Marriage License Fee -
FOR the purpose of reducing the marriage license fee in Anne Arundel
couples who have completed a premarriage education course within a
time period before applying for a license; providing for disposition of
requiring the Anne Arundel County Health Department to compile and
to the clerk of the circuit court a list of premarriage education
courses in the
county and adjacent counties; requiring the clerk to make the list
marriage license applicants; defining a certain term; and generally
marriage license fees in Anne Arundel County.
.. . .
(2) (I) IN THIS PARAGRAPH, "PREMARRIAGE EDUCATION COURSE"
MEANS A COURSE, SEMINAR, WORKSHOP, PROGRAM, OR COUNSELING TO PREPARE A
COUPLE FOR MARRIAGE AND PARENTING.
(II) IN ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, IF AN APPLICANT FOR A LICENSE
PRESENTS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE THAT THE PARTIES TO BE MARRIED HAVE
COMPLETED A PREMARRIAGE EDUCATION COURSE WITHIN 1 YEAR BEFORE THE
DATE OF THE APPLICATION, THE FEE FOR A LICENSE IS $2.
(III) THE CLERK SHALL:
1. RETAIN $1 OF THE FEE; AND
2. PAY $1 OF THE FEE INTO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE
(IV) 1. THE ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
SHALL COMPILE AND PROVIDE TO THE CLERK A LIST OF PREMARRIAGE EDUCATION
COURSES OFFERED IN THE COUNTY AND ADJACENT COUNTIES.
2. THE CLERK SHALL MAKE THE LIST AVAILABLE TO EACH
APPLICANT FOR A LICENSE.
Appendix -- text from Crouch's MODEL PREMARITAL EDUCATION ACT, which is
also a part of "Classic Marriage" model legislation at
a. Marriage education or training. Marriage education or training
required by this Act may be provided by any of the following:
(i) An official representative of a religious institution, or any clergy
person authorized to perform marriages, or his or her designee.
(ii) Marriage education or skills training providers listed in the
on-line or printed Directories of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and
Couples Education (http://www.smartmarriages.com), PAIRS, the
Relationship Enhancement program, the Couple Communication® programs, The
Couples Health Program SM, PREPARE, Marriage Savers, Inc., or PREP, Inc.;
or marriage education providers approved by a Community Marriage Policy
TM or Community Marriage Covenant.
(iii) Marriage education or skills training providers listed in any other
on-line or printed directories whose use has been authorized by the Clerk
of the Supreme Court.
(iv) Marriage education or skills training providers listed in
Directories which shall be maintained by the local court clerk's office
or other office where marriage licenses are obtained. Each such Directory
shall be a binder in which the clerk may place the names of local
providers and materials sent by them; copies or world wide web URLs of
other lists or directories authorized by this Act; printouts of local
sections of on-line directories; and other materials or lists that the
clerk deems suitable.
(v) Licensed behavioral health professionals, psychologists, social
workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, or professional
b. Proof of completion of marriage education or skills training, or
marriage counseling, for all purposes for which it may be required under
this Act (and not only in this section), shall be submitted as follows:
(i) Proof of completion of training should be signed by a provider, on
the stationery, or other form or certificate, that is used by the
provider, program or sponsoring institution, but it need not be
(ii) If the provider is not yet in the court's Directory and does not
appear obviously unqualified to the Clerk or Deputy Clerk, the Clerk or
deputy shall add the provider or the program to the Circuit Court's
directory (regardless of whether the provider or program is already in
another on-line or printed directory or is clergy).
c. (i) Whenever anyone contacts a Circuit Court Clerk or Deputy Clerk
seeking a marriage license or celebrant, or pursuant to Subsection (d) of
this Section (below), the Clerk or deputy shall ask if the couple have
gotten or are getting pre-marital training, and from whom.
(ii) If they have not, or if the answer is vague, the clerk or deputy
shall inform them that training may be available from the clergy person
who is to marry them, or from other programs offered by religious
institutions, and that non-religious marriage educators are available and
listed in the Directories that are authorized by Subsection (a) of this
(iii) The clerk shall do this with all couples, even those who are not
legally required to obtain training under the provisions of this Act.
Americans for Divorce Reform: http://www.divorcereform.org
1300 N. Utah St.
Arlington, Virginia 22201
divorcereform at usa.net
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