2003 West Virginia Premarital Counseling Bill


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Status: Was being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee as of 3/10/03. See WV Senate bill status reports at http://129.71.164.29/bill_status/2003sql/Hist_First-Last_Sen.cfm


SENATOR STEVE HARRISON 8th District, Kanawha County, WV Capitol
Phone:304-357-7841
Summary of Valentine's Day Senate Floor Speech
- 2/14/03 -
Thank you, Mr. President. I know it is Friday, so I will be brief. But it is also
Valentine's Day and I do want to call attention to two Valentine's Day
bills which were introduced today. Both are designed to strengthen
marriages and reduce the divorce rate in West Virginia. There is
no question that divorce can have devastating effects on those divorcing,
on children, and on society as a whole. These bills, which are both
optional, are designed to help reduce the divorce rate and the negative
effects associated with divorce. SB 542 is very simple, it is designed
to encourage premarital counseling by giving a small discount on the
marriage license application fee for couples who present proof of
receiving at least 4 hours of premarital counseling. ... Mr. President, similar bills have been enacted in other states. I hope that the Senate will consider these proposals
as a way to help reduce the divorce rate and the negative effects of
divorce. Thank you and Happy Valentines Day.


Senate Bill No. 542

(By Senators Harrison, Weeks and Smith) [Introduced
February 14, 2003; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to
the Committee on Finance.]

A BILL to amend article one, chapter
fifty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred
thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated
section ten-a, relating to establishing a marriage license discount if the
applicants show proof of a certificate of completion by an approved
premarital counseling course. Be it enacted by the Legislature of West
Virginia: That article one, chapter fifty-nine of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new section, designated section ten-a, to read as
follows:

ARTICLE 1. FEES AND ALLOWANCES. § 59-1-10a. Marriage license
discount.
(a) A county shall discount a marriage license fee under section
ten of this article if the couple to be married has completed, within one
year before the date of the application for the license, a premarital
counseling course that meets the following requirements specified in this section.
(b) A premarital counseling course shall include instruction
regarding: (1) Conflict management; (2) communication skills; (3)
financial responsibilities; (4) children and parenting responsibilities;
and (5) consisting of at least four hours of instruction.
(c) A premarital counseling course may be conducted by a clinical professional counselor,
licensed in the state, or any person listed on the registry to perform
marriages in the secretary of state's office.
(d) A premarital counseling course provider shall provide to each couple who completes the course a certificate of completion that specifies: (1) The names of the couple; (2)
the name of the provider; and (3) the date of completion of the course.
(e) To receive a discounted marriage license fee under this section an
applicant for a license shall verify completion of a premarital counseling
course by presenting to the clerk of the county commission a valid
certificate of course completion issued in accordance with subsection (d)
of this section.
(f) Any cost for a premarital counseling course shall be
paid by the applicant for a marriage.
(g) The amount of any discount shall be five dollars from the portion of fees not yet dedicated in section ten, article one, chapter fifty-nine of this code, from the regular marriage
license fee.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish a marriage
license discount for applicants who complete an approved premarital
counseling course. This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.



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