When you think of divorce, you might not think of liberty and justice–or social equality. Millennia ago, divorce was unthinkable. You took a vow, and you kept it. To do anything else was a humiliating disgrace of a magnitude that can’t even be comprehended today. Consider how pervasive domestic violence is, though, and you might conclude that barring divorce is the real evil.
Some divorce proceedings all of the world still rely on someone acknowledging guilt. When you consider how far other social equalities have come in the last couple of decades–gay marriage in particular–the idea of placing blame on one party or another during what is already a stressful, costly, and time-consuming endeavor seems quite outdated.
In many areas of the world, marriage rates are declining. This is the case in both England and Wales. Many advocates of social equality see this as a consequence of the process itself. When so many marriages result in divorce, and when divorce is so expensive, maybe the better option is to forego marriage altogether. The problem is that unmarried couples who cohabitate could face even greater financial and legal burdens should they choose to split up. It gets even more complicated when you add children and/or addictions which lead to drug rehab, to the equation.
These obstacles might be stressful to overcome when you’re married, but at least there is a legal foundation on which to stand when you decide to get a divorce. Interestingly, in Scotland when the divorce is defined easily by adultery or previously agreed upon and carried out separations, divorce rates fall. In addition, property is equally split. Childcare is the responsibility of both parents, even after divorce.
England and Wales haven’t even tried to reform current divorce laws since 1990, and those attempts were broken in court. That doesn’t mean that no one is talking about the subject or trying to change the broken system. In fact, the judges with the most experience want the system overhauled completely.
Proponents of change aren’t asking for much aside from the obvious necessities:
- Stop forcing one party to admit guilt.
- Allow the legal system to uphold prenuptial agreements
- Provide hetereosexual couples the option to choose civil partnership over marriage
Much of the resistance comes from the Church of England and other religious organizations that believe marriage is a sacred institution–but ironically their resistance is what might just result in that institution’s destruction.