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In those cases, he said, repairing the marriage would be the better option.
Opponents are skeptical that the new provision will help. They say that once couples reach the class, they will likely go through with the divorce.
"This is the last thing you need. Especially earlier, when you have bigger fish to fry, and it’s unlikely to do anything good," said Nicholas Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah.
Utah’s divorce rate is just slightly above the national average. It has waned in recent years, mirroring a dip in the state’s marriage rate.
One of those who attended a class was Ryan Campbell. He had arrived alone one recent January evening. His wife had already gone weeks earlier. As he sat there, he began to think that maybe he and his wife could get back together.
Then, a new reality started to sink in: A 27-year marriage that produced four children was over.
He said his divorce is nearly final, and that he’s not sure that taking the class earlier would have saved his marriage. But it has helped him handle the grief. "I’ve come from the begging and the fear to being empowered," he said, "and it’s OK."
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