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.
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