CONCEPTS RELATED TO FAMILY LIFE: DIVORCE AND EMPTY SHELL MARRIAGE BY: LOGO WHAT IS DIVORCE? Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is the process of terminating marriage or marital union. It usually entails the canceling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage, thus dissolving the bonds of matrimony between a married couple under the rule of law of the particular country or state. Divorce laws vary around the world, but in most countries divorce requires the sanction of a court or other authority in a legal process, which may involve issues of distribution of property, child custody, division of debt etc. LEGAL SEPARATION Is an arrangement by which a couple remain married but live apart, following a court order. In cases where children are involved, a court order of legal separation often makes child custody arrangements, specifying sole custody or shared parenting, as well as child support. Legal Separation does not dissolve a marriage. Some couples obtain a legal separation as an alternative to a divorce, based on moral or religious objections to divorce. Other couples consider legal separation as a time away from each other to evaluate their marriage, as well as what makes them happy and also to keep their marital benefits such as citizenship of their spouse’s country. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIVORCE AND LEGAL SEPARATION Divorce Divorce is when a marriage is legally dissolved by the court and the couples now live apart and in the cases with children, the court decides how the responsibility will be shared. Each person can get married to another individual since the marriage was dissolved. Legal Separation Legal separation is when a couple remain legally married but live apart following a court order and all other aspects of the marriage are dissolved. The court also decides how the responsibilities would be shared. Each person is not allowed to marry another person. TYPES OF DIVORCE No-Fault divorce: No-fault divorce is when neither party involved in the divorce is required to proof fault of either party. The application for no-fault divorce can be filed by one or both of the parties involved. At- Fault divorce: At-fault divorce is the type of divorce that requires one or both of the parties involved in the divorce to prove which party was at-fault for the divorce. If fault is not found then the divorce will not be ratified and the couple will still be legally married. Uncontested Divorce: In an uncontested divorce, the parties have reached an agreement as to the major issues in the matter (child custody, visitation, property distribution, child support, etc.) on their own or with the assistance of their attorneys. Once the parties have agreed upon and signed a marital settlement agreement, the agreement is presented to the court and the final divorce decree is entered. TYPES OF DIVORCE Summary Divorce: Is when the two parties involved are able to agree on key issues prior to the proceedings or meet certain eligibility requirements. Some of the key issues for summary divorce are: 1. Short marriage (five years) 2. No children (or the couple has already discussed custody 3. Minimal or no real property 4. Marital property is below $35,000 (not including vehicles) 5. Each spouse’s personal property is the same as marital property. Contested Divorce: Is one in which the parties eventually allow a trier of fact, either a judge or a jury, to make a determination as to what the terms of the divorce will be. Divorces usually become “contested” after all attempts to negotiate a settlement have failed. The only way in which a contested divorce is resolved is through a trial. TYPES OF DIVORCE Mediated Divorce: Mediated divorce is one in which both parties attend several sessions with a professional mediator(a person who facilitates communication between the parties and helps the mediation participants reach a mutually satisfactory solution) in an attempt to resolve their major differences. The mediator does not make recommendations to the court. Rather, the mediator acts as a neutral party and will report to the judge only whether or not an agreement was reached by the parties. Collaborative Divorce: In collaborative divorce, the parties agree from the beginning not to resolve their differences in court. Instead, they engage in a series of meetings or joint sessions in which they confer with their attorneys, third parties, and other experts to achieve the best outcome for the entire family. The parties in a collaborative divorce focus on a result that benefits all the parties involved. Arbitrated Divorce: In an arbitrated divorce, the parties agree to allow an arbitrator(a professional that works to increase communication between two sides of a dispute) usually a neutral attorney who has no connection to the case, resolve the outstanding issues in a procedure much like a trial or hearing. Arbitration differs from a trial in that the outcome of an arbitration usually is not appealable by either party. REASONS FOR DIVORCE There are many reasons for divorce but only 12 are legally accepted, below are some of the reasons Adultery or cheating: Adultery is extramarital sex that is considered objectionable on social, religious, moral, or legal grounds. Sexual activities with a person of the opposite sex who is not the spouse as well as the same sex involving oral sex and other sexual behavior not necessarily including intercourse constitute adultery. In order to use adultery as grounds for a divorce, the filing party must present sufficient proof that the other party had sexual relations with a third party. Circumstantial as well as documented evidence, including videotapes of the spouse committing the sexual infidelity, can be used as proof of adultery. In addition to this evidence, the accusing partner must prove that the other partner had the opportunity and inclination to commit adultery. Desertion: Refusal to have sexual relations with a spouse can be considered abandonment in some incidences.[To obtain a divorce on grounds of abandonment the accused spouse must have voluntarily deserted the marital household with no justification or intention to return. The deserter must have left without the consent of the filing party and remained absent for an uninterrupted period of time. However, a spouse who is unjustly forced from the marital household by the other spouse or leaves to escape domestic violence would not be at fault of abandonment or desertion. In fact, in these cases, the spouse who remains at the home may be charged with "constructive desertion", if their behavior justifies the charge or if that spouse refuses a sincere offer of reconciliation. Mental Impotence at time of marriage: In some countries, another intimacy related matter—impotency—can also function as grounds for divorce. If a spouse is unable to perform the act of sex with his or her companion, the other member of the couple is within his or her rights to file for divorce. To serve as valid grounds, the partner's inability to perform intercourse must have been present at the outset of the marriage, and had to have lasted through the start of the divorce proceedings; i.e. the couple must not have consummated the relationship in order to use impotency as a justification for divorce. REASONS FOR DIVORCE Criminal conviction and/or imprisonment: The criminal conviction and imprisonment of a spouse is often considered grounds for a divorce. To obtain a divorce on grounds of criminal conviction, the filing spouse must be able to prove that their spouse has been convicted of an illegal offense. In many cases, it is required that the convicted spouse has been sentenced to serve time in prison in order for a divorce to be granted on the grounds of criminal conviction. Mental or physical abuse: Proof of cruelty or the repeated infliction of serious physical or mental suffering by one marital partner on the other is also grounds for divorce. To obtain a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, the filing spouse must prove that the cruelty has made marriage intolerable for them. The cruelty must have been deliberate and calculated and must not have been provoked by the filing spouse. Acts such as physical attacks, repeated displays of rage involving screaming and violent behavior, as well as continuous false accusations, such as adultery and publicly berating and insulting a spouse or flaunting an affair with another person are some grounds of cruelty.[The cruelty must have been recurrent. Single acts of cruelty in a marriage are usually not considered grounds for divorce. Drug or alcohol addiction: Another of the many issues that could lead to a couple's divorce is substance abuse. There is a noted correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and/or narcotic misuse and domestic violence. Since extreme mistreatment of one's spouse is a serious concern, the law considers it legitimate grounds for divorce; the same holds true in cases where a member of the couple feels uncomfortable with the other's overuse of controlled substances. Mental illness: Permanent mental illness and incurable insanity is a ground for divorce. To obtain a divorce on grounds of mental illness, the filing spouse must have proof that the other spouse suffers from a permanent psychological disorder that makes marriage impossible. The disorder must be incurable and the spouse must have been diagnosed by doctors competent in psychiatry. EMPTY SHELL MARRIAGE An empty shell marriage is a marriage in name only, one where the spouses continue to live under the same roof but live as separate individuals. When divorce is difficult for legal, religious or financial reasons, or when a couple decides to stay together for the sake of the children, their failed marriage can desiccate to a shell. Although they may share a home and may have been married for years, the spouses are not emotionally connected and often are lonely and emotionally distant. On the surface, an empty-shell marriage often appears happy and healthy, successful and serene. The relationship is stable and often little conflict is visible. Outsiders get the impression the marriage has no problems but are often very surprised when the marriage finally caves and ends in divorce. TYPES OF EMPTY SHELL MARRIAGE Devitalized marriages: These marriages are characterized as being empty, apathetic relationships which once had something more. Usually couples have been married several years, and over the course of time, the relationship has lost it’s zest, intimacy, and meaning. Once deeply in love, they recall spending a great deal of time enjoying sex, and having a close emotional relationship in the past. But now they spend little time together, enjoy sex together less, and no longer share many interests and activities. Serious arguments are rare. Conflict-habituated marriages: The partners are dissatisfied in many facets of the relationship, communication, conflict resolution, and sexuality, and they may avoid or fail to settle issues between them. Instead, they focus on and gain satisfaction from outside experiences such as leisure, the children, religious life. The conflict between them is “controlled” meaning it doesn’t escalate and it may be main way the partners interact with one another Passive-congenial marriages: These utilitarian marriages emphasize qualities in the partners rather than emotional closeness. These upper-middle class couples tended to emphasize civic and professional responsibilities and the importance of property, children, and reputation. Among working class people the focus might be on the need for security or hopes for children. Unlike devitalized marriages, passivecongenial partners never expected the marriage to be emotionally intense. This relationship has little overt conflict. REASONS FOR EMPTY SHELL MARRIAGE The partners in the family desire to convey a stable family image to the society because societies consider it morally wrong to get a divorce and they are afraid of being stigmatized. Some partners do not have sufficient funds to face the financial consequence of divorce. Also, divorce is really difficult to attain in some countries. Some couples live under the same roof because they cant bear the stigma that comes with divorce in their religion. Various couples live together even though they have no feelings because they don’t want their decision to affect the lives of their children.