When you file for divorce, you must have completed the divorce orientation course before you ask the court for any order. Until you've done it, you can't get the court to give you an order. —Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful

SALT LAKE CITY — A House committee supported a bill Thursday that seeks to ensure completion of the state-mandated divorce orientation course for divorcing couples who have children.

The course is required to be completed within 60 days of filing for divorce. However, nothing is in place to make sure people do, Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, told the House Judiciary Committee.

Nielson is sponsoring HB323, which would require completion of a divorce orientation course before temporary orders could be issued. The bill allows the requirement to be waived in situations of safety concerns for the petitioner or a child.

"When you file for divorce, you must have completed the divorce orientation course before you ask the court for any order," he said. "Until you've done it, you can't get the court to give you an order."

The bill also allows for live, video or online instruction of the course. An online version of the course would take about an hour.

Some committee members expressed concerns about verification and poor quality of instruction if not provided in person. Others said video and online instruction have the potential for even better quality.

Nielsen defended that portion of the bill by saying it would "reduce any potential hardship in rural areas."

The bill now moves to the full House.

— Madeleine Brown