LEONARD M.WEINER, ESQ, Ph.D.
LEONARD M.WEINER, ESQ, Ph.D.
Has the radical right lost its compass? Surely men and women of reason clearly understand that bringing back the necessity to prove "blame" to permit a tormented spouse to leave an intolerable marital relationship will increase the hostility and anguish of the feuding spouses and create an exploding tinder box that will cause additional pain and suffering to the unfortunate couple and their family.
Trying to make it harder to get a divorce by imposing a need to prove blame is like locking the schoolyard gates to prevent a schoolyard fight already in progress. We should be trying to separate the feuding parties, not locking them into the battle.
Am I hearing correctly? It is right wing, Conservative groups that are advocating increased government involvement in the personal lives of the country's citizens by intervening in the domestic lives of Americans to prevent full grown, adults who, for whatever reason, have grown apart and can no longer tolerate their spouses, from controlling their own lives and destinies. Without the legal outlet of divorce, increased domestic violence and spousal abuse will inevitably result. What a boon for matrimonial lawyers who would, with the passage of such legislation, spend even more of their clients' money proving "blame" and encouraging the divorcing spouse to publicly describe in lurid detail (or create) the most intimate secrets and frailties of the other, shattering a most sacred element of the marriage relationship - the trust and confidentiality between spouses. No feeling human being who has experienced the pain, anguish, torment, humiliation, anger and fear of going through an adversarial divorce could ever suggest that the solution to their unfortunate situation was to remain married - that was a solution which every divorcing spouse has struggled with and tormented with during countless sleepless nights and which was simply intolerable and an unacceptable alternative.
Although we speak of a "Marriage Contract", it is not a commercial transaction to be enforced in civil court by adjudicating one side or the other as the winner and providing him or her with "The benefit of the bargain". Marriage is a vow of love and affection, of a desire to formally declare to the world that two individuals have decided to share their lives together. If they unfortunately grow apart, transforming the feelings of love and affection which brought them together into feelings of resentment and hatred, no court on earth could restore the love and affection - the "benefit of the bargain" - no matter how right one side may be and how wrong the other side may be. The adversarial forum provided by our civil justice system is ill equipped to deal with divorce which entails a myriad of psychological, emotional, and familial problems far beyond the scope and competency of the courts to handle.
Ultimately we must all acknowledge that once the emotional ties that brought these two individuals together are gone society must provide for a means to assist these people to separate with as little damage as possible to the children and families they have created. Intolerable situations do not become manageable if made permanent - the anguish and pain suffered by the divorcing parties must be alleviated not exacerbated with simple minded solutions of "The Right" and wrong.
Divorce mediation offers a viable alternative to the adversarial system by providing a forum in which a positive atmosphere is created in which the divorcing parties are encouraged to begin relating to each other as parents of their children and in common problem solving; to take control of their lives rather than having a judge decide what is best and right for them and their children; and to develop new channels of communication with the other spouse to resolve present and future problems, rather than concentrating on finding fault and blame for all of the past injustices and pain inflicted on each other.
In short, divorce is a necessary process, recognized and sanctioned by the Bible as a legitimate solution to an intolerable marital relationship (Deuteronomy, XXIV,1). The process should be taken out of the hands of the adversarial judicial system and shifted to lawyers trained in divorce mediation who specialize in dealing with the total array of psychological, emotional, familial, financial and legal problems that surround in greater or lesser degree every divorcing couple. Putting the "blame" back in divorce will not keep families together nor will it result in a more equitable distribution of the marital assets; it will result in increased anguish, pain and resentment for all concerned - this is not a Conservative notion - this is plain reactionary - shame.
Leonard Weiner, Esq, Ph.D.
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