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Christopher Wilde
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation

By Christopher Wilde

We pour so much of ourselves into the idea of love, trying to understand it, find it, and hopefully endure within the confines of a relationship. The social pressure to be with that special person comes at you from every side. The mere tradition of being married carries a weight of conformity so profound it is no surprise that millions of people are sucked into its black hole every year. It’s ironic that we continue the cycle of marriage when on average the chances of success are little better than placing all of your material wealth on red or black and spinning a roulette wheel.

Despite knowing that our chances of divorce fluctuate between forty-five to fifty percent we continue to take the plunge without ever really understanding why most marriages succeed or fail. When “in love” no one wants to talk about the possibility that it won’t work; that would be far too unromantic.

When you consider all the talk and machinations put into finding whom we believe to be the right person who’s going to spoil it by over thinking? Failing to talk about why marriages do and don’t work is the number one reason the divorce rate is so high. It is very difficult to overcome what you don’t understand and aren’t willing to examine. There is another reason we don’t talk about it, studies demonstrate that certain criteria exist for who’s likely to make it and who isn’t. Chances are if you live under a certain tax bracket you don’t meet the criteria.

People are more likely to stay married if:

  1. they are married after age twenty,
  2. both grew up in stable two-parent homes,
  3. are well and likewise educated,
  4. enjoy a stable income from a good job,
  5. live in a small town or on a farm,
  6. did not cohabit or get pregnant before the marriage,
  7. are religiously committed,
  8. And of similar faith, age, and education.

If you don’t conform to that list of attributes the likelihood of staying married is slim, and for millions of people these criteria are simply out of reach. Who can change the fact of number two? It can’t be helped if you didn’t grow up in a stable two parent home. Now this list isn’t a guarantee of failure or success in a marriage. It’s more like a map and a compass pointing to a special class of people who are likely to find success. It’s not all bad news. Married people report that they are generally happier married then not married, but that happiness does not translate into a longer lasting marriage.

There is plenty that could be done to secure a better future for individuals considering walking down the aisle of contractual obligation.

We should start by pointing out the realities of divorce.

Divorce

Here’s what happens when the dying light of marriage fades. One party goes to an attorney and plunks down a few thousand dollars, the more contested (assets and issues you have) the greater the amount you will be asked to pay. Ultimately your spouse will do the same. Even in an amicable divorce each party should have an attorney to review the proposed divorce at all stages.

Either you or your spouse will file a complaint asking for a divorce and if the issues are deeply contested they will try to slam you as hard as possible. So long as their complaints have some modicum of belief that what they allege is true they can say it in the complaint. Verifying their allegations is part of fact finding called discovery which could entail hundreds of dollars in photocopies and back and forth letters of denial between attorneys, “We don’t have that document you do,” letters can cost twenty-five dollars or more a letter, plus copy costs and postage. After lots of paper gets pushed around then comes depositions that can last hours at hundreds of dollars per hour. If children are involved expect expert witnesses; deposing experts can double costs.

If you get to trial, expect to pay at least as much as you have paid up until that time. The legal process can wrangle on for months or years.

Divorce is expensive most people know that before getting married. Living in a bad marriage can be just as expensive. If the emotional problems of the person you are married to suck away the soul divorce might be the best option. On the flip side if the person you are married to is looking to trade-up you could get blindsided by a divorce and the emotional toll could be devastating.

Divorced and separated men are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than married men. Women initiate the majority of divorce proceedings. Women attempt suicide too but are successful one out of every eight times when compared to men. This is for two reasons, women are less successful at it because they fail to use firearms, and women tend to cope better by pulling in friends and family for support.

The most affected by divorce are inevitably the children. Let’s face it if there are no children in the marriage the divorce usually comes down to money and frankly you are better off to pay whatever you can pay to permanently sever the tie and never have to see the other person again. However, if you have children you can never, short of the death of the spouse or your children, be free of that person. Nor should you be, children need both parents and it is always better if both parents can work cooperatively in raising their children.

On a side note this is one area where gay marriage is extremely good for children of heterosexual couples. While there is a strong legal standard that is supposed to prevent gender bias in child custody cases the bias still exists. The more judges and psychologists are forced to deal with the reality of choosing the primary caregiver from two men, or two women, perhaps they will show less bias when it comes to heterosexual couples.

We should consider another group of people. They are seldom spoken about in marriage and divorce statistics, nor are they really studied by health professionals. I call them the, “were it not but for’s,” we can also call them the, “only if’s.” Everyone has one close friend that is in, or has been in, this category. These are the people who would get out of their marriage were it not but for the children, where it not but for the financial security, and were it not but for their self-esteem has been so diminished they don’t know what else to do. The reasons are infinite and can often be as simple as so much time has gone by the thought of trying to find someone new or being on their own is devastating. See, there’s that pressure again, because the last thing you should do when you get out of a marriage is start looking for someone else.

People should be scared to death of marriage it’s a defunct institution that is not serving the needs of society. We all like to believe that we will be different while at the same time secretly knowing which of our married friends and relatives won’t make it.

There is a solution that solves this problem. A solution that eliminates the fight over who can and can’t be married, a solution that strengthens the family unit formed out of marriage, and a solution that will dramatically reduce the divorce rate.

Part 1: Overturning Marriage

Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership

Keywords: Gay Marriage, Domestic Partnership, Supreme Court, California, Homosexual, Divorce, In re Marriage Cases, (S147999)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You might want to fact check being 'religiously committed' IIRC atheists actually have lower divorce rates.

Christopher Wilde said...

That is a great point, I'll look into it. I would not be surprised to find that the same psychological mechanism of religious commitment is the same as an atheist. Meaning that being an atheist is a form of religious commitment in that both hold a firm faith in their beliefs.