10.5: Divorce


Divorce is the termination of marriage. In the United States and many other countries it is a legal process in which a judge legally ends a marriage and all marital duties. The result leaves the two individuals status as “single”. A divorce does not declare a marriage null and void, as in an annulment, but instead states that the marriage was unsuccessful for any of a variety of reasons and declares the two individuals as single. When a divorce takes place there are many things that the judge will have to rule on ranging from the custody of the children to the sharing of property. Western cultures have seen a sharp increase in divorces over the past fifty years. A study by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University found that only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents. Most cultures make it possible for individuals to terminate a marriage. In some societies the process is longer and harder, while in others it is almost impossible. There are many countries where divorce is illegal and taboo.

Divorce and Children

There are numerous problems that can arise in a family which can lead to a divorce, one of which is dysfunction. Not only is the dysfunction a part of the cause of divorce but can also be a factor on the adjustment that children go through when a family separates. It is often said that about half of first marriages will be dissolved, however, the number is actually closer to 40-45% and projected to reach 50%, while the divorce rate is typically higher with second and third marriages (around 60-68% and 73% respectively).[35] Along with that concludes that there will be an estimated half of children will live in a single-parent household, regularly that being with the mother of the child. The many possible reasons behind such a high rate of divorce are the independence of women, declining earnings among men without college degrees, rising expectations for personal fulfillment from marriage, and greater social acceptance of divorce. (Amato R. P, 2000)

When getting divorced, there are many ways parents can help ease their children into their new family situation. Having couples initiate and encourage open discussions with their children, and reassure their support and love for their children can be extremely beneficial in the adjustment of a new divorce. Assure the parties involved that it is not their fault, and making sure continuous contact with the other parent is available. Sometimes allowing the option for counseling can be very important; it allows the child and/or children involved to talk with someone else in a safe space, where they can express their emotions and not feel obligated to take sides with a parent but just allow them to talk open and honest about how they are feeling.

Divorce in Islam

Divorce in Shari'a law is often initiated by the wife with a the Khula, the returning or denial of her dowry or the husband simply saying the word "Talaq" three times.[36] Imams often act as marriage counselors to Muslim couples seeking a divorce, their likelihood to recommend divorce is usually based on their particular sect and culture. Divorce in Islam is focused on the reconciliation of the married couple whenever possible.[37]

Before the divorce can be finalized there is a waiting period called the Iddah. The standard period of an Iddah is three of the wife's menstrual cycles, this is to see if there is a child from the marriage. If the woman cannot bear children then the waiting period is three months. During this time the wife may not seek out another marriage. A Muslim male is allowed to change his mind up to three times. The male can divorce his wife three times and each time take her back, but when the third strike is in, the man can no longer have any contact with his ex-wife and she's prohibited to him.

Divorce in the Philippines

In the Philippines, a married couple cannot divorce by law. Regardless of where they live, this law follows them throughout the entire world. Article 15 of the New Civil Code states that laws pertaining to familial rights and responsibilities, or to the standing, form and legal capability of persons, are compulsory upon inhabitants of the Philippines even though residing overseas. Therefore, Filipinos are still under the rule of their land even if they are in another location. Annulment is the only recourse a Filipino citizen has under normal circumstances. This is different than a Decree of Nullity of Marriage. This states that the marriage was invalid at its inception. It was not legal due to incorrect agreement or performance by the clergy. [23]

Divorce and The Catholic Church

Christianity as a general whole frowns upon divorce shading it as very negative. However, toleration among the different Christian domination's differs. The Roman Catholic Church for example expressly forbids divorce for any sacramental consummated marriage defining a couple as wed until the death of one or both of the spouses or unless an annulment is granted. If there is no annulment, then even if separated, they may not remarry and are not considered "single" as defined by the term divorce. The topic of divorce can be found bibliographically in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and the epistles of Paul. Paul addresses this issue forwardly in "his First Epistle to the Corinthians chapter 7: "Let not the wife depart from her husband...let not the husband put away his wife" (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)" and in "his Epistle to the Romans stating:"For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth...So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress" (Romans 7:2-3)". Demonstrating clearly the Roman Catholic view on the topic of divorce and the biblical support in it's standing.

Divorce and American Society

“If the family is the building block of society, then marriage is the foundation of the family. (Fagan)” Divorce in the US is estimated to, by the National Center for Health Statistics, to occur in 43% of all marriages (Divorce Rates[38]). The effects of so many divorces have tremendous long-term impacts on both the divorcees and any children involved. And divorce will affect not only the current generation but is suggested by mounting social evidence to even affect future generations. This has severe impacts on the society as a whole, with so many divorces occurring. For example, it is estimated that families with children that were not poor before see their income drop by about fifty percent after a divorce; this then affects society as a whole when that family seeks financial assistance from the government. the US government spends $150 billion each year to subsidize and sustain single parent families compared to$150 million spent annually on programs to strengthen marriage. In other words, for every $1000 spent after a divorce only$1 is spent to help families sustain their marriage. In addition many families who experience divorce do not maintain the same religious practices they had while married, this can be for several reasons. However, religious practice of any kind has been linked to better health, longer marriages and a healthier overall family, thus the reduction in practice can worsen the effects of the divorce on the children and parents. Marriage is an important aspect of any society, and the US government should realize this and re-focus spending to help sustain this vital aspect to increase the health of its current people and those to come (Fagan[39]).

10.5: Divorce is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Wikibooks - Cultural Anthropology.