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Common Law Divorce: Myths Debunked

As more states begin to adopt into their laws the notion and recognition of common law marriage, naturally the notion of divorce is also going to appear. The U.S has an alarmingly high rate of divorce, and those of the same sex who are joined in matrimony are no exception. In some states, individuals can live together for a particular number of years and will be recognized by the state as “married,” even if they’ve  never had a legal wedding ceremony. Therefore, when those couples split up, it’s necessary to receive a common law divorce. By understanding the basics of common law divorce, individuals can learn how to obtain one.

Full Faith & Credit Clause
FFAC is the name usually given  to Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. This Clause addresses the duties that states within the United States have to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” The clause’s application to state recognized and legal, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships is however, unresolved, and so too is its relationship to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. As of the present, 39 states passed laws and constitutional amendments that define marriage as consisting solely of a man and a woman. Most explicitly prohibit the state from honoring same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries

Obtaining a Common Law Divorce

Now, even though there are some states that do not legally recognize common law marriages, there are states that do, all under certain circumstances. Only eleven states in the U.S. have provision for common law marriages, so unless you live or previously lived in one of those states with your partner under the conditions described by that state’s laws for the formation of a common law marriage, you’re not legally married and thus don’t have to file for divorce. Once a couple has been recognized as married through the common law marriage, they must obtain a divorce in exactly the same way a legally married couple would. They will have to petition the courts to work out issues such as child custody, division of assets and property.

Many hear “Common Law” and automatically think that the divorce process will be different for divorce amongst same sex couples. The opposite is true of this. In fact, obtaining legal certification of marriage between same sex couples is far more difficult than dissolving a marriage. This is due to the fact that many states simply do not legally recognize the act. There are so many myths and falsities floating through the subject of this, and to set the record straight, is to say that divorce, no matter who the spouses are, is entirely the same.

77 Year-Old Marriage Ends

 

In a time where marriage is thought to have a 50% chance of ending in divorce, we often look to our grandparents’ generation for inspiration. Often asking the question of “How did they stay together?” or “What was different about those eras?” we find ourselves trying to figure out some sort of secret formula to make relationships and marriage work.

In truth there is no magic, the magic is a myth; people fall in love for different reasons, meet under different circumstances, and mesh together over many different facets of life that combine their personality traits and the environment in which they traverse together in. Sometimes someone can tell right away if someone is a match, and sometimes it takes decades for spouses to come to the conclusion that maybe this just isn’t working.

Age of the Absurd

In an age where celebrity marriages last a week, pet custody battles range up to thousands of dollars, and marriage is increasingly marginalized in society, comes a story that may be sad to some. But in truth, it’s just another example of what makes a marriage successfully, and that, no matter the situation, age, or how much you get along with your spouse, the truth is always more important than any other choice.

In 2012 we have seen our share of celebrity divorces dominate the news. Game shows, reality programs, and everything in-between have shown us the stark reality of just how absurd some people can be. Those with any significant amount of logic understand the real world without cameras can even be more stressful than those propped up scenarios involving people that are made to think they are “important.”

An Exercise in Real World Truth

Going back to our grandparents’ generation, we can stand amazed at how their families were able to keep it together. That is why this story seems so familiar despite its first glance perception. In 2012 an Italian man wanted to get divorced from his wife. He claimed to have discovered letters between his wife and another man, and when confronting his wife she admitted to the affair but begged him to stay together. Nothing totally out of the ordinary there right? The twist is that the man is 99 years old. The wife is 96. They have been married for 77 years, and the affair took place nearly 60 years ago. Despite his wife’s pleadings for them to stick together in their marriage the man is moving ahead with the divorce. When the divorce papers go through they will become the oldest divorced couple on record. Opinions on this anomaly situation will vary from “Why would they get divorced now?” to “What difference does the affair make 60 years later?”

The truth is, as always, that the truth wins out. No matter the shape, form, or age of a marriage, the same rules apply. There was no special relationship glue in the 1950’s and this story proves it. People are human, and are hurt by deception. Even at age 99 and over, something happened 60 some odd years ago that broke the trust and hurt a spouse. The truth and communication in a relationship and marriage is always the most important facets in its eventual success.

A Brief History of Divorce

Divorce, as we have discussed in our blogs and throughout this site, is prevalent in today’s society. Many researchers point to every little move as either the end of marriage as we know it, or a sign that people are losing their morals. The fact is, divorce, regardless of its time, place, or numbers, has had a place in society for hundreds of years. Different cultures throughout history have had their own way of dissolving marital unions. Some dissolution customs were pretty harsh, but it was the way of the times when religion reigned supreme. Not to bring religion in to the picture, but marriage and its numerous customs are related to religious beliefs.

Medieval Europe

In the post Roman Empire world, familial life was governed and influenced more by religious beliefs and customs than it was by civil courts. As time passed in the 9th and 10th century, the number of divorces had been greatly reduced by the authority of the church so that it became almost unthinkable to approach the subject. The view of divorce, as the process is known today, was for all intents and purposes prohibited after the tenth century. However, a separation of husband and wife, and the annulment of marriage did exist. What is today referred to as “separate maintenance,” otherwise known as legal separation, was termed “divorce a mensa et thoro” (which translates to “divorce from bed-and-board”). The husband and wife were physically separated and were then forbidden to live or cohabit together; but their marital relationship did not fully terminate.

Lack of Civil Influence

In medieval Europe the civil courts had no power over marriage or divorce. Any grounds for annulment were determined by church authority and were accordingly applied in the ecclesiastical courts. Annulment was given for very limited reasons, and was the only consistent causes for a complete dissolution of marriage. The church held the unwavering belief that the sacrament of marriage made two people inseparable from each other. Applying this theory literally was the propensity of religious cultures at these times, especially the Christian church. As far as governing rules, when husband and wife became one person upon marriage, this act could only be completely dissolved or annulled if they initially entered into the sacrament improperly.

Those medieval notions of divorce are a far cry from today’s western view for sure. But it shows just how far back the desire and situations of dissolving marriages extends; and the truth is divorce and the dissolution of marriage goes back even further. So when we see “new” information or anyone take up in arms about the impending doom of marriage as we know it, know that it is just history semi-repeating itself. As cultures change, the beliefs in society either change as well. Our views on long-standing occurrences that have been in our culture will fluctuate with the times. Divorce has, and will be, around as long as people get married. Failures, as well as successes, in relationships will persist because it is an extension of a our faulty nature.

 

2nd & 3rd Marriages Destined to Fail?

The rate at which first marriages are lasting for more than 25 years is steadily flirting around the 50% mark. This means that the number of people on their second or third marriage is becoming larger by the minute. Statistics have shown that in the U.S., 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second, and 73 percent of third marriages are ending in divorce.

There are many different theories as to why these numbers are so staggering. One common explanation is that a significant number of people enter into a second or third marriage “on the rebound” of a first or second divorce. This means that they are so used to having a significant other that they rush into another relationship, either not fully knowing their new spouse, or not being 100% sure that they even want to be married to this person.

The divorcees in question are usually vulnerable; they do not wait a sufficient time to recover from their divorce or to get their priorities straight before taking their vows again. They enter their next marriage for the wrong reasons, not having internalized the lessons of their past experiences. Time heals all wounds, as they say. However, many are just not willing to wait for whatever reason.

Reasons for the Fall
Now, obviously there isn’t just one clear cut, factor to account for such high rates of second and third failed marriages. There are some individuals in second and third marriages who consider divorce manageable and not necessarily a tragedy. They have handled it once, so they will handle it again. They may even recognize the warning signs earlier than they did first time around and are quicker to react.

One of the other popular theories for the increase of first marriages during recent decades is the gained equality between the genders. Women have become more financially independent and more self sufficient in the workplace, and men have become increasingly more domestically independent.

Gender roles and stereotypes are breaking down, and a stigma is no longer being placed on the stay at home father, or the businesswoman who works 50 hours a week. With the economy coming to a slow rise, these things aren’t frowned upon.

Therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that if and when these individuals move on to a second or third marriage, they are likely to feel inclined to protect themselves emotionally and financially.

Food For Thought
These reasons reflect the logical and statistical side of why the divorce rate among second and third marriages is so high, so here are the more human interest aspects of the divorce rate.

Usually, second and third marriages are later on in life, meaning children and family have been established in prior relationships. So in these later nuptials, its safe to say that there is less glue holding the marriage together. Children typically act as a stabilizing factor, and when children are absent the marriage is prone to be less sturdy and withstand the storms that marriage brings.

In the U.S, an overwhelmingly high percent of children are born in first marriages, and to spouses that are 35 and under. Most couples in a second marriage do not have common children to bind them together. Conversely, not having shared responsibility for kids means it’s easier to leave when you are going through a rough patch.

Relationships become increasingly tangled and complicated with subsequent marriages, and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain an even keel when on your third marriage. The luster and grandeur of marriage is somewhat lost after the first time, and becomes hard to maintain.  On a day-to-day level, maintaining those relationships is not easy and frequently generates animosity. It is just harder to keep the love alive as the years go on and previous marriages have worn the soul. Making your first one count is the best advice that anyone can give those who are married or even contemplating a divorce.

Divorce, Separation, & Annulment

 

When a dissolution of marriage is at hand, couples often struggle to weigh their options as far as how to handle all aspects of the situation. There are a number of different options to chose from, but all is dependent on the terms on which the spouses are ending their marriage, how the marriage itself occurred, and when.

When couples decide to end their relationships, they usually have three choices: file for divorce, become legally separated, or get an annulment. However, couples usually do not know the difference between each option, or the advantages and the disadvantages. Here is a brief overview of the three marriage dissolution options.

Divorce
Divorce, or the dissolution of a marriage, is the legal process in which spouses legally terminate their marital union. Under the law, this means the spouses are agreeing to relinquish themselves from the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Along with this official divorce procedure, there are many issues the couple must address. These issues include, but are not limited to: child custody, child support, division of assets, division of debt, and spousal support.

Each state has its own specific and unique divorce laws and has different residency requirements. Conventional divorces (those not done online) typically take around six months to be finalized. When a couple finalizes a divorce, each party is no longer liable for any future debt of the other spouse and no longer has to equally share their income and profits with the other spouse.

Legal Separation

Legal separation, also known as a judicial separation, is a legal process in which a married couple formalizes their separation but remain legally married. This often occurs before the finalization of a divorce. Legal separations are granted only through a court order in the county of the state in which the spouses reside. When a couple files for a legal separation, they address the same issues as in a divorce, such as child custody and spousal support.

One of the benefits of a legal separation is that certain rights are not eliminated, such as access to social security and medical benefits, which is why many couples choose to take this option. Another advantage is that a legal separation does not take long to finalize. In addition, if a couple decides to move forward with a divorce, the court will use the separation agreement as a template for the divorce settlement agreement. However, each state varies in their laws regarding legal separations.

Annulment

An annulment is very similar to a divorce in that it does indeed dissolve a marriage. But, an annulment differs from a divorce in that a judge will proclaim the marriage null and void. In other words, the marriage is considered to be invalid from the inception and there is no legal record of its existence. To be granted an annulment, the parties must have legal grounds for an annulment; again, these legal grounds vary depending on the state. Grounds for an annulment include: fraud, concealment, inability to consummate the marriage, or a marital misunderstanding. A religious annulment differs from a civil annulment in that each religion has their specific grounds for annulment, which also varies upon religion.

Men More Likely to Remarry Than Women?

No one has ever questioned the want to get remarried after a divorce. It seems like the logical next step in modern times to try to find that one special person again. Since the 1970’s, divorce has embedded itself in our pop culture. So it is natural that this would a situation where people are going on second and even third marriages.  Recently, however, a study was released that showed a disparity between the paths of male and females when approaching the possibility of a second marriage after a divorce.

Gender Disparity in Second Helpings

A recent study released says that divorced men are get over their complicated break-ups faster, and are more willing and ready to remarry than divorced women.  The study of 2,000 adults found that 47% of divorced men are more eager to wed again, compared to just 20% of previously married women. This contrasts the traditional,and somewhat sexist notion, that women are looking for love more than men.

A further 42% of divorced men admitted they were keen to get back on the dating scene. Women were reported to be slightly more reserved about venturing back into the dating world with less than one in five considering doing the same thing. 31% of divorced men also revealed they have tried venturing into the internet dating world following their marriage break-up, compared to 19% of women.

The State of Relationships

This UK study, finished and released to coincide with the DVD release of Crazy, Stupid, Love, surveyed 2,000 divorced adults. The reason and the way the study itself was done says something about where we are as a society concerning the repetition of failed relationships and the new movie genre dealing with the recovery from a failed marriage.

Yet given research study limitations, they should always be taken with a grain of salt. Many contrasting studies exist, showing “proof” of one idea or another, or making a claim to the effect of divorce on everyone from children to the family pet. One thing is for certain though: Divorce, as well as second and third marriages, are here to stay. Understanding the divorce process and everything that goes along with it, both emotionally and legally, can help minimize the residual damage this permanent  relationship schism.

Life, Marriages, Divorces, & Singles

Since divorce laws were made more acceptable in the 1970’s, there has always been a debate about the long term effects accessible divorce would have on marriage. The “marriage will become obsolete” argument has been stated, refuted, and stated again for decades now. However, there are examples and studies that show some areas of marriage declining, and divorce may not be the culprit. Many factors exist in society which can push people either one way or another as far as relationships and marriage; and divorce is just once facet of the evolving social climate.

Taking the Temperature Study

According to a recent study at Pew survey, many single Americans of all ages were asked whether they were in a committed relationship or whether they were looking for a partner. The largest portion of single persons, 55 %, stated that they were NOT in a committed relationship and that they were NOT looking to enter into a committed relationship leading towards marriage.

Another survey done by both Pew and Time magazine asked direct questions to a number of participants. The ‘single’ participants who were surveyed with the question, “Do you want to get married?” gave an interesting answer. Understandably, the question question was very basic, but the answers cannot be denied: Only 46% said ‘yes.’ This means about a quarter of the singles (a group that includes the divorced, widowed, cohabiting, or always-single) stated  they do not want to marry, and 29% responded they were not sure. For the divorced and widowed, the number of participants who stated they wanted to marry sunk to 22%, with 46% saying they do not want to marry, and 32% unsure.

In another nationwide survey, sampling 2,691 people living in America who are 18 and older, participants were asked whether each of the listed possible goals below would be easier to accomplish if someone was married or if single. The participants could answer: (1) easier if married, (2) easier if single, or (3) it wouldn’t make any difference.

Here is the list of goals they were asked to assess by marital status:

  1. Find happiness
  2. Have social status
  3. Have fulfilling sex life
  4. Be financially secure
  5. Get ahead in career

The highest ranking answer for to all these goals was (3) it wouldn’t make any difference, with the exception of the question about raising a family, in which 77% stated (1) easier if married.

Obviously, the sampling size  is infinitely smaller compared to the population, so the results cannot be taken to mean more than they actually do. However, it’s interesting to see the mindset some  people have today when it comes to committing to marriage or even a long-term committed relationship.

Yet in all of this, divorce cannot be considered the cause of the changing mindsets of our nation. Many facets of society can sway a person in their decision-making when it comes to committing to a relationship or marriage. Marriage has changed over time, and so has divorce. Going from a considerably long and dragged out process, to being able to divorce quickly and hassle-free with the gaining popularity of online divorce. There will always be a natural ebb and flow to the way we view certain aspects of our lives. The “sky is falling” attitude can sometimes just be the initial reaction before the dust settles over a longer period of time.

Going Through a Divorce? Find an Outlet

You have been stuck in a combustible situation for a while. Finally you and your spouse have confronted the issue and realized it cannot be rectified. Moving forward in the divorce process can be both a relief and very tough time in one’s life. If you have kids you will have worries for the future and many things to work on before your life settles back down into a routine. In the meantime you need to find some time just for you. Having an outlet for your frustrations, worries, or just having a place to vent can be important in keeping a cool head and shedding potential stress during these frustrating days ahead.

Find Your Voice

You don’t have to be a “writer” to vent your frustrations through words. Start a blog; center it around your current situation or even something totally different you find joy in. Food, travel, music, art, business, or anything you find interesting enough to lose yourself in a couple times each week. This isn’t a serious professional endeavor, so don’t worry about making it as professional as possible; this is solely for you, and in the end it can be a great escape from your daily troubles.

It doesn’t have to necessarily be a blog either; it can be a diary or journal. Maybe that is too old fashioned for you. In that case, just write. Getting your frustrations, worries, or deepest fears out of your mind and on paper or computer screen can be therapeutic. No one has to see it, you can even erase it after you have written it, although we don’t recommend that choice. This can be a great way to internaly confront your worries.

All In The Family

Divorce, in a sense, can be seen as the loss of your family. That may be a dramatic way to express it, but in some ways it is true. The nuclear family becomes divided; kids may bounce back and forth between you and your spouse house on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the outcome of the divorce proceedings. This is a time to lean on your own family members. Having your family around in a time like this can be a big help. In addition, your family can be an outlet for your frustrations. Cousins, brothers, sisters, and parents can be great sources of relief and friendship during this time of crises. Everyone needs someone to talk to. Your family will always be there through good times and bad; keep them close and you will never feel lonely.

Divorce can be trying on anyone’s lives, both parents and kids. Having the necessary outlets as well as social and mental cushions while going through the process can go a long way towards keeping a positive attitude and staying focused on your responsibilities. Never think you’re alone. Millions of people go through the divorce process, whether it’s an uncontested divorce or a dragged out in a court heavy process. Many often feel as if they have no one to talk to, this is never true. Reach out and connect with the positive people in your life and good things will happen.

Divorce Forecast: Post-Holiday Divorce Flood

The holidays are a wonderful time. Family and friends gather around to share good cheer and good food; there are presents to be unwrapped and enjoyed; and the cold weather makes everyone turn to cozy nights indoors. However, the cold weather also seems to provide drifting couples an incentive to stay together and retain the warmth of the season, and not a moment later. January to March marks the season of divorce, which has been a lesser known fact divorce attorneys and divorce coaches have kept to themselves.

Another fact divorce professionals have kept to themselves is how couples tend to stick together when their financial situation becomes a tight. But seeing as the recession appears to be coming to an end, we may be in for a flurry of divorce on top of the divorce season this year.

The Reason for the Season
Divorce season is not a myth or some sensationalized passing trend. For many years couples who see nothing but divorce in their future have taken one for the team and stuck out the marriage until the holiday season passed. Couples with children attempt to remain in each other’s good graces to avoid spoiling the holiday season for their children. Other couples remained unhappily married in an effort to not disrupt the status quo of the happy holidays. Then, there are those spouses who are on the fence about their marriage and are hoping some holiday magic will rub off on their marriage.

Regardless of the holidays, during times of financial hardship, couples tend to stick together to avoid empty wallets and an even worse financial state. This may seem counter intuitive, but the majority of marriages fizzle out instead of burst into flames. The less combustible marriages avoid the “D” word until they feel they can afford to begin life anew.

The holidays come and go, and sometimes the holidays take some marriages with them. The couples of these marriages view the New Year as a time for change, rebirth, and renewal. This is why in the weeks after the New Year, when children return from winter break, the divorce rate goes up 50% higher than any other month of the year.

How Do You Celebrate Divorce Season?
While the holidays amplify all that is wrong with your family and marriage, the season can come through and produce some shining gems of why you fought so hard for your family and marriage. There is never a good time for divorce, which is something all divorcees must accept and face. Even in the symbolic rush to shed your unhappy marriage by New Years, a month and 14 days later you must face the international holiday of love and romance.

If you’ve been thinking about divorce at all lately, now is the time to take a step back and make sure you don’t make a decision during the season of strained relationships. But, if divorce has been creeping up on your marriage for quite some time now, it would not be wise to dismiss the idea of divorce. Just celebrate the divorce season by making calm, rational decisions irrespective of the pressure of the holiday season.

The Singletons: Parents and Prosperous

Superhero mother and babyIt has been said children of rich parents have encouragement, while children of poor parents have grit. In response to this, a recently written article argued that children raised by single mothers have both encouragement and grit. Pamela Krimpke, the author of the Slate article “It’s Better to Be Raised by a Single Mother“, says children of single parents are given real world experiences, which make the children appreciative, hard working, and insightful.

While there is no scientific or psychological research behind this, we are inclined to agree that children of single parents have a little more life experience than children of intact families (which is an entire topic in itself). Yet we won’t discriminate or question the efforts of single fathers. Any single parent deserves to have hats tipped at them and pats on the back.

The Laws of Single Parents

Single parenting is hard. There is no question about it. But here are a few tips that may make the journey just a little more enjoyable and decrease the probability of ripping ones hair out.

Get Some Sleep: For any human being, sleep is an essential part of being able to function. But for parents, single and coupled, sleep is both a necessity and a rare luxury. Some way, somehow, though, you must find a way to get some sleep because sleep boosts immunity, allows your body to repair itself, and releases tension. So whatever you do, make sure your child stays on a reasonable sleep schedule so you can stay on a reasonable sleep schedule.

Weave a Supportive Network: Married parents have a built in support network, but even they need some reinforcements from time to time. A good support network for single parents is imperative. To build a support network, look to family, friends, neighbors, and community groups. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but wisdom.

Guard Your Health: You are the one person your kids depend on for everything, so make sure you’re always in good health. The best way to do this is to keep up a healthy regimen of healthy, colorful, fresh foods along with a refreshing exercise schedule. The exercise doesn’t have to be a workout that takes everything out of your; the exercise should be a tension releasing workout that leaves you invigorated, and can double as some well deserved me-time.

Create Structure: For your sanity, and your child’s future, begin setting boundaries and rules early. Part of parenting and setting boundaries is learning to say “No,” and this couldn’t be a better thing for a child to hear every now and again. Learning to set limits and say no will allow you to evaluate and make decisions about what is necessary and what isn’t; it will also teach your child valuable life lessons.

Go Easy on Yourself: For any parent it’s easy to set the lofty goal of trying to be and do everything, but when you don’t reach that goal you feel like a horrible parent. Avoid aspiring to be Wonder Woman or Superman, and just try to be the best you can be; be Super You.  A part of being the best you can be is coming to terms with what your best is and working within your abilities. That’s the way to keep a household happy, whether it’s headed by two parents or just one.