If you are planning to get married this summer in West Virginia, prepare to spend more money or time on the process than you may have anticipated.
Earlier in June, county clerks handing out marriage licenses began determining whether the soon-to-be-blissful couples had obtained pre-wedding counseling. If not, the cost of a license will be $56 - $20 more than if counseling had been obtained.
Proponents of the new law say it will reduce divorces and save taxpayers money.
How much? As much as $276 million a year, the Family Policy Council estimates.
Well, that is nonsense, though broken families often do create burdens on taxpayers. Some newly-single parents find they must sign up for Medicaid to get health care for their children, for example, but if it doubtful this new law will change that statistic.
Critics of the law have various reasons for objecting. One is that the mandate is a money-making scheme by the state. Another is that couples who hadn't already planned to obtain counseling may not benefit much from doing it under what amounts to duress.
Finally, some worry the law is just one more example of intrusive social engineering by government.
That, it is.
Too often such regulations go on the books and stay there, whether worthwhile or not. Little by little, they add to the cost and bother of our lives.
On this one, legislators should wait a reasonable time and look at the divorce rate. If it hasn't gone down, the law should be rescinded, and couples should be saved the $20.
Heaven knows, many of them will need it.