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Masha Maximova, 501



Divorce (or the dissolution of marriage) is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties.

Divorce laws vary considerably around the world, but in most countries it requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process. The legal process of divorce may also involve issues of alimony (spousal support), child custody, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt.

Why do people divorce?

There are many reasons why people get divorced. Some of them are more common than others. The list of major reasons why marriages fail and people get divorced is given below.

High Expectations: Many couples enter into marriage with high expectations and when the spouse doesn’t exactly measure up to them, it leads to clashes and sometimes breakup. Divorces often happen because people rarely discuss their expectations in detail prior to marriage and are less willing to work on their marriages afterwards; many would like quick solutions rather than having to resolve issues. In the US, several couples have even gotten divorced for reasons like snoring or champing.

Adultery: One of the major reasons for divorce is the infidelity of one of the partners. While some couples can go through adultery and save the marriage, many believe that cheating is something that cannot be forgiven and dealt with, even if the spouse guilty of adultery wants to preserve the marriage.

Compatibility: Marriage is not just about physical compatibility; the couple should be emotionally and psychologically compatible as well to have a successful marriage. When the partners are not in tune with each other’s feelings then there is a higher chance that they might end up breaking up.

Low Tolerance and Rigidity: Many couples exhibit a very low level of tolerance in marriage and stay rigid in their outlook. When both partners want to get things their own way and never compromise, that may lead to a divorce. Many overlook the importance of compromise and flexibility for the successful working of a marriage.

Lack of Commitment: For many couples the marriage vows are just a ceremony and spouses often do not follow the commitment made through the vows to the partner. They tend to forget that it takes commitment to nurture any relationship rather than looking for quick solutions and giving up too easily.

Lack of Physical Attraction: As years go by, it’s quite natural for many to lose interest in maintaining their beauty and health. Such a situation can also result in a divorce. Moreover, there are people who marry their unattractive partners for money, social status or whatever else. Once they have lived together for a while, many realize the reasons they got married are not so important any more, compared to dissatisfaction with their family life.

Outer Pressures: There are several cases where parents have forced or blackmailed their daughter or son to enter into a marriage against their wishes. There are also cases where the parents have forced their daughter or son to break the marriage promising a better life or threatening to harm the partner. Interference of parents or in-laws, other relatives or friends, too, may end with a divorce.

Lack of communication: Lack of communication between partners can be a major reason for a breakup. A marriage is on the rocks when the lines of communication fail. Many people, especially inexperienced young spouses, expect their partners to guess what they want or what their problem is without communicating. Because of this sometimes even small misunderstandings can lead to a divorce.

Family Background: People who come from divorced homes are more likely to get divorced than people who come from happily married households. Many of such children do not have belief or faith in the institution of marriage and do nothing to salvage the marriage. Divorce seems less like a big deal if you have seen your parents go through it.

Meeting Someone Else: Not only may the spouse who has fallen victim of the infidelity of the other partner demand a divorce, but there are also cases when the partner involved in an extramarital relationship wants to call it quits. There doesn’t even necessarily needs to be sex involved; meeting someone else for some married people helps them understand that they are unhappy in their current relationship.

All in all, however many reasons there can be for people divorcing each other, it all boils down to being unhappy with your marriage and the impossibility (or lack of desire) to fix it. However, there is very rarely just one reason why people want a divorce; literally always it is a complicated combination of reasons.

History of divorce

The ancient Athenians liberally allowed divorce, but the person requesting divorce had to submit the request to a magistrate, and the magistrate could determine whether the reasons given were sufficient.

Divorce was rare in early Roman culture but as their empire grew in power and authority Roman civil law embraced the maxim, "matrimonia debent esse libera" ("marriages ought to be free"), and either husband or wife could renounce the marriage at will. Though civil authority rarely intervened in divorces, social and familial taboos guaranteed that divorce occurred only after serious circumspection.[citation needed] The Christian emperors Constantine and Theodosius restricted the grounds for divorce to grave cause, but this was relaxed by Justinian in the sixth century.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, familial life was regulated more by ecclesiastical authority than civil authority. By the ninth or tenth century, the divorce rate had been greatly reduced under the influence of the Church, which considered marriage a sacrament instituted by God and Christ indissoluble by mere human action.

Although divorce, as known today, was generally prohibited after the tenth century, separation of husband and wife and the annulment of marriage were well-known. What is today referred to as "separate maintenance" (or "legal separation") was termed "divorce a mensa et thoro" ("divorce from bed-and-board"). The husband and wife physically separated and were forbidden to live or cohabit together; but their marital relationship did not fully terminate. Civil courts had no power over marriage or divorce. The grounds for annulment were determined by Church authority and applied in ecclesiastical courts. Annulment was for canonical causes of impediment existing at the time of the marriage. "For in cases of total divorce, the marriage is declared null, as having been absolutely unlawful ab initio." The Church held that the sacrament of marriage produced one person from two, inseparable from each other: "By marriage the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being of legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything."[50] Since husband and wife became one person upon marriage, that oneness could only be annulled if the parties improperly entered into the marriage initially.

After the Reformation, marriage came to be considered a civil contract in the non-Catholic regions, and on that basis civil authorities gradually asserted their power to decree a "divorce a vinculo matrimonii", or "divorce from all the bonds of marriage". Since no precedents existed defining the circumstances under which marriage could be dissolved, civil courts heavily relied on the previous determinations of the ecclesiastic courts and freely adopted the requirements set down by those courts. As the civil courts assumed the power to dissolve marriages, courts still strictly construed the circumstances under which they would grant a divorce, and now considered divorce to be contrary to public policy. Because divorce was considered to be against the public interest, civil courts refused to grant a divorce if evidence revealed any hint of complicity between the husband and wife to divorce, or if they attempted to manufacture grounds for a divorce. Divorce was granted only because one party to the marriage had violated a sacred vow to the "innocent spouse". If both husband and wife were guilty, "neither would be allowed to escape the bonds of marriage". Eventually, the idea that a marriage could be dissolved in cases in which one of the parties violated the sacred vow gradually allowed expansion of the grounds upon which divorce could be granted from those grounds which existed at the time of the marriage to grounds which occurred after the marriage, but which exemplified violation of that vow, such as abandonment, adultery, or "extreme cruelty".

In the Edo Period (1603–1868), only husbands could divorce their wives by writing letters of divorce. But actually, their relatives or marriage arrangers often kept these letters and tried to restore the marriages. It was not allowed for wives to divorce their husbands. Some wives were able to gain sanctuary in certain Shinto "divorce temples" for several years, and were able to obtain a divorce thereby. In 19th century Japan, at least one in eight marriages ended in divorce.

Types of divorce

Though divorce laws vary among jurisdictions, there are two basic approaches to divorce: fault based and no-fault based. However, even in some jurisdictions that do not require a party to claim fault of their partner, a court may still take into account the behaviour of the parties when dividing property, debts, evaluating custody, and support.

Laws vary as to the waiting period before a divorce is effective. Also, residency requirements vary. However, issues of division of property are typically determined by the law of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

No-fault divorce: Under a no-fault divorce system, divorce requires no allegation or proof of fault of either party. The barest of assertions suffice. For example, in countries that require "irretrievable breakdown", the mere assertion that the marriage has broken down will satisfy the judicial officer. In other jurisdictions requiring irreconcilable differences, the mere allegation that the marriage has been destroyed by these differences is enough for granting a divorce. Courts will not inquire into facts. A "yes" is enough, even if the other party vehemently says "no".

The application can be made by either party or by both parties jointly.

At-fault divorce: Prior to the late 1960s, nearly all countries that permitted divorce also required proof by one party that the other party had committed an act incompatible to the marriage. This was termed "grounds" for divorce (popularly called "fault") and was the only way to terminate a marriage. Most jurisdictions around the world still require such proof of fault. In the United States, no-fault divorce is now available in all 50 states.

Fault-based divorces can be contested; evaluation of offenses may involve allegations of collusion of the parties (working together to get the divorce), or condonation (approving the offense), connivance (tricking someone into committing an offense), or provocation by the other party. Contested fault divorces can be expensive, and not usually practical as eventually most divorces are granted. Comparative rectitude is a doctrine used to determine which spouse is more at fault when both spouses are guilty of breaches.

Summary divorce: A summary (or simple) divorce, available in some jurisdictions, is used when spouses meet certain eligibility requirements, or can agree on key issues beforehand.

Key factors:

Short marriage (less than 5 years)

No children (or, in some states, when the spouses have resolved custody and set child support payments for children of the marriage)

Minimal or no real property (no mortgage)

Marital property is under a threshold (around $35,000 not including vehicles)

Each spouse's personal property is under a threshold (typically the same as marital property)

Uncontested divorce: It is estimated that upwards of 95% of divorces in the U.S. are "uncontested", because the two parties are able to come to an agreement (either with or without lawyers/mediators/collaborative counsel) about the property, children, and support issues. When the parties can agree and present the court with a fair and equitable agreement, approval of the divorce is almost guaranteed. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the court to decide how to split property and deal with the custody of their children. Though this may be necessary, the courts would prefer parties come to an agreement prior to entering court.[citation needed]

Where the issues are not complex and the parties are cooperative, a settlement often can be directly negotiated between them. In the majority of cases, forms are acquired from their respective state websites and a filing fee is paid to the state.[4] Most U.S. states charge between $175 and $350 for a simple divorce filing.[5][6][7] Collaborative divorce and mediated divorce are considered uncontested divorces. In the United States, many state court systems are experiencing an increasing proportion of pro se (i.e., litigants represent themselves without a lawyer) in divorce cases.[8] In San Diego, for example, the number of divorce filings involving at least one self-representing litigant rose from 46% in 1992 to 77% in 2000, and in Florida from 66% in 1999 to 73% in 2001.[8] Urban courts in California report that approximately 80% of the new divorce filings are filed pro se.[9]

Collaborative divorce: Collaborative divorce is a method for divorcing couples to come to agreement on divorce issues. In a collaborative divorce, the parties negotiate an agreed resolution with the assistance of attorneys who are trained in the collaborative divorce process and in mediation, and often with the assistance of a neutral financial specialist and/or divorce coach(es). The parties are empowered to make their own decisions based on their own needs and interests, but with complete information and full professional support.

Mediated divorce: Divorce mediation is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation. In a divorce mediation session, a mediator facilitates the discussion between the two parties by assisting with communication and providing information and suggestions to help resolve differences. At the end of the mediation process, the separating parties have typically developed a tailored divorce agreement that can be submitted to the court. Mediation sessions can include either party's attorneys, a neutral attorney, or an attorney-mediator who can inform both parties of their legal rights, but does not provide advice to either, or can be conducted with the assistance of a facilitative or transformative mediator without attorneys present at all. Divorce mediators may be attorneys who have experience in divorce cases, or they may be professional mediators who are not attorneys, but who have training specifically in the area of family court matters. Divorce mediation can be significantly less costly, both financially and emotionally, than litigation. The adherence rate to mediated agreements is much higher than that of adherence to court orders.

Debate over divorce

There is much controversy over divorce, as questions like: “Is it right to let people get a no-fault divorce?”, “Should the children’s opinion be taken into consideration?” and many others arise. But it, in the end, boils down to just one: Is divorce really worth getting, or is it morally wrong?

Arguments FOR divorce being morally wrong:

1. Divorce is wrong according to the Bible.

Anti-divorce activists are convinced that God designed marriage to be permanent, and by making vows at the wedding ceremony one has to really mean what they are saying. If they are not sure they mean it, they probably shouldn’t get married in the first place.

  • This argument, however, is easy to refute. Firstly, most people, even if we are talking about Christians, are either not religious or do not tend to follow what is prescribed by the Bible blindly. Secondly, there are a lot of people who belong to another religion (which does not necessarily condemn divorce) or are agnostic. Thirdly, religion can hardly be used in a debate as most of its prescriptions have no logical basis.

2. Divorce has negative consequences for children.

Children may often mistake the divorce of their parents as their own fault. Some children experience feelings of anger, grief, and embarrassment due to their parents’ divorce. Studies show that children who have experienced a divorce frequently have lower academic achievement than children from non-divorced families. Moreover, children need role models of both sexes in order to develop into a socially healthy individual. Another point is that children can be afraid to enter relationships in the future as they may interpret the example of their parents as a sign that relationships are likely to fail.

  • While many of these statements are true, it is not because of the divorce itself that these negative consequences occur. They occur because parents, no matter whether they are divorced or not, are negligent and irresponsible in child-rearing. In a divorced family, a child can still get role models of both sexes, as divorce doesn’t mean that either parent is going to spend less time with the child. The decline in academic performance of a child is often a sign of stress, which is temporary in case of divorce, and protracted if unhappily married partners stay together in order to preserve a family against their own will.

3. Divorce can cause economic instability for both partners.

According to research, the economic well-being of both partners is significantly reduced after a divorce. In consequence, an adult who hasn’t been working before the divorce or has been working part-time, may be obligated to obtain a full-time job to maintain financial stability. In turn, this can lead to a negative relationship between the parent and child. The relationship may suffer due to lack of attention towards the child as well as minimal parental supervision.

  • While this might be true in some cases, generally the legal process of divorce involves issues of alimony (spousal support), child support, distribution of property, which means that the adult staying with the child does not necessarily have to take on additional jobs. Moreover, since women are much more likely to stay with the children than men, statistics shows that about 80 per cent of divorced women remarry, which normally means that the father is replaced by another breadwinner.

4. Divorce has a negative psychological effect on adults.

Another argument against divorce is its negative effect on a couple's psychological health. Divorce has been rated the number one life stressor, according to Arizona State University. Adults can suffer a negative psychological balance, including high levels of anxiety, unhappiness and depression. Your psychological and emotional well-being can, therefore, be severely damaged by divorce, and it can affect the rest of your life.

  • It is no doubt that going through a divorce is stressful for both partners. But when people want a divorce, it usually means that their life together is even more stressful than that.

Arguments AGAINST divorce being morally wrong

1. Everyone has a right to a second chance.

Most people get a divorce because they feel they are unhappy in their marriage. Most admit that when they were getting married, they truly believed they would spend the rest of their life with the spouse. But quite often those expectations prove wrong, and everyone deserves a second chance as long as their future happiness is at stake. Divorce is just a way of breaking up with someone, and breaking up is considered to be quite a normal thing. Divorce is no different.

  • Divorce is way more serious than terminating a teenage relationship. First off, a family whose members are getting a divorce often includes children. A divorce is a psychological trauma for every child. Moreover, for the person staying with the children, it will be much harder to find a partner than for the other spouse. Even if the spouses do not have children, statistically, a divorce is almost always initiated by one of the spouses, while the other one still wants to preserve a marriage. That means that the person initiating the divorce can also cause psychological trauma for their partner. Divorce is very different from a teenage breakup as it generally occurs at a later age, and the older you are, the more difficult finding a new partner gets.

2. For many, divorce is a way to escape abuse.

Domestic violence is, unfortunately, not unheard of today. People may say divorce is morally wrong, but what do you do if the situation in your family is even wronger? Many people who have initiated a divorce admit that they had been victims of physical or verbal abuse.

  • ---

3. Divorce is often beneficial for children.

A child who experiences divorce may mature quicker and develop responsibility at a younger age. If a child's father moves out and the child has younger siblings, he/she may have to take on a co-parental role with the mother. This exposure will give the child a sense of responsibility that other areas of their life can benefit from. Also, children will benefit from divorce if there is a high level of conflict in their parents' marriage. It is unhealthy for children to be around parents who fight and criticize each other. Also, the constant conflict between the parents often causes aggression towards children from the part of the spouses. Unable to solve problems by discussing them with their spouse, adults often redirect their agression towards children, which can cause fear and deep psychological trauma. Such children are often afraid to even speak with their parents as they don’t know what reaction might follow. There is a chance that such children may get used to being too reserved and quiet which can be an obstacle to their becoming socially healthy individuals.

  • It is questionable whether maturing at an early age is beneficial for the child. Looking after siblings and helping parents is something most children do, but after a divorce the help required from the child is not always something he/she can handle physically and psychologically. Too many chores at home can have a negative impact on the child’s performance at school, and also lead to depression as he/she observes other children do not have these problems to deal with.

4. Divorce encourages personal growth.

An advantage to divorce is the personal growth a person goes through after the event. "Divorced individuals report higher levels of autonomy and personal growth than do married individuals," says Miami University professor of philosophy, Robin L. Graff-Reed, in her article, "Positive Effects of Stressful Life Events: Psychological Growth Following Divorce." This is because divorced individuals have to become self-sufficient and cope with the pressures of everyday life by themselves. After divorce, individuals can develop the personal skills that can help them work towards a better quality of life for themselves and their children.

  • If one feels their divorce encouraged personal growth and responsibility, it can’t be viewed as an argument for divorce being acceptable. It only means that their marriage discouraged it, or that they were avoiding responsibility themselves while married because they knew their spouse would help them. A marriage should be an equal unity and encourage personal growth. The fact that many people feel the levels of responsibility and personal growth rise as they divorce is only a sign of the wrong choice of partner.

5. Divorce can increase one’s self-esteem.

When your marriage is unhappy, you can begin to feel unhappy about yourself. A partner who belittles you, calls you names or otherwise makes you feel less-than-stellar can also wreck your self-worth.

  • Divorce actually diminishes one’s self-esteem rather than increases it. The person who has been through divorce can feel helpless and useless, as they discover there is no one to listen to their problems and give advice, or just wait for them when they get home after work. Divorce inevitably causes stress for both ex-spouses, as well as the lowering of self-esteem.

6. By getting a divorce you escape the restrictions of family life.

Some people are just not meant to exist in a marriage. They feel they are trapped, with the other spouse imposing harsh rules on them they can’t understand. After a divorce, they get freedom in everything, ranging from devoting more time to their career to coming back home late at night and choosing a movie that they want to watch over “the Matrix”.

  • Marriage does in many cases mean compromise, but if there are any illogical restrictions to one’s freedom in a marriage, they should definitely be discussed. No marriage is perfect and the problems have to be worked on and solved rather than ignored until the spouses can’t stand each other. Few people who are about to divorce realize how many good things there are about marriage, such as support, help and understanding that no friend or relative can provide you with. About 70% of people regret having divorced a year later. The so-called freedom often proves superfluous as, in most cases, by getting a divorce you lose your closest friend.


It is obvious that divorce has its shortcomings, as it is clear it has a negative impact on the economic well-being of a family. It can also influence negatively the partners’ emotional and psychological well-being, although in many cases escaping from the constant clashes is a relief for ex-spouses. The effect of divorce on children can be negative as well as positive. It fully depends on the situation the parents were in and whether by getting a divorce they try to escape minor problems they don’t want to deal with or if the couple is experiencing major problems that truly have no solution other than divorce. It is questionable whether divorce boosts one’s self-esteem and encourages self-growth, as some examples prove it and others prove the opposite. It is clear that in cases of verbal or physical abuse divorce can be the only way out. And it seems that in families where both spouses feel unhappy, divorce can be the only reasonable solution.

Personal View

To me, the whole idea of proving that divorce is morally wrong does not really stand. Firstly, you can’t really debate a motion of something being “morally wrong”, as both words have a subjective modal meaning attached to them. Should marriage be preserved at all costs? I really doubt it, especially the “all costs” part. I have to agree that some people can be too hectic about getting a divorce, undermining the negative impact it may have on the children and the spouses themselves. If the problems the couple is going through can be solved, they definitely need to give it another try. But in real life, most people don’t get divorced because of minor issues. In cases of domestic violence and even spouses being unhappy with their marriage, a divorce is often the only option. In such situations, it has more positive effects: the children don’t feel the pressure of their parents’ constant conflict, and the spouses themselves get a chance of leading a happier life.












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