By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Starting in November, Oklahoma couples with children will have to go through an education program before being allowed to divorce in the state under a new bill signed into law this week.
The bill for couples seeking divorce due to incompatibility and with children under 18 is aimed at educating parents about the effects of divorce on children and advising them about reconciliation, said its sponsors, state Representative Jason Nelson and Senator Rob Standridge, both Republicans.
"If you are going through the whole divorce process and have kids, if we can do anything to keep people together, we should. Marriage is a lifelong contract with the state and with your children," Standridge said.
The education program, which costs between $15 to $60, must be completed within 45 days of a receiving a temporary order from the court.
The law, which takes effect on Nov. 1, allows couples to opt out of the education program if there are compelling circumstances.
"I always thought Oklahoma's divorce rate was very high," Standridge said.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)