Divorce: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Regardless of the reasons “why” a marriage ended, divorce is almost always an uncomfortable, difficult, unhappy event. A spouse may be thrilled to finally cut ties with their controlling, abusive, or cheating spouse; however, the divorce still incites feelings of disappointment over a failed marriage, a broken family, or loss of financial certainty.

Divorce means a LOT of changes in one’s daily routines and habits. A stay-at-home parent may be thrust back into the workforce. Infants and toddlers may have to start going to daycare. A higher-earning spouse earning a comfortable living may suddenly become strapped for cash after child and spousal support payments are deducted from their income.

In the aftermath of divorce, it can take a solid year or two for divorce spouses to reach a new sense of equilibrium, a new normal. All of the above aside, divorce is a viewed as a critical step for many unhappy spouses.

Divorce serves a vital function emotionally and legally – freeing people from empty, hollow marriages, allowing them to get on with their lives and form deeply satisfying relationships with other people. Divorce may be devastating initially, but in the long-run it becomes emotionally liberating and definitely worth it.

Divorce Has Become Socially Acceptable

One of the reasons why divorce filings in the United States has spiked in the last 50 years is the changing role of women in our society, and the same goes for the skyrocketing divorce rate among Baby Boomers. Today’s women are more economically independent than ever before, and their expectations for happiness are higher than in previous generations.

Gender equality, which has steadily risen since World War II, has brought on the much-talked about changes in the divorce landscape and it’s spread into the Baby Boomer generation. The modern woman is educated and financially independent and can rely on her own 401(k) or IRA to support her through her “Golden Years,” and doesn’t have to stay in an unhappy marriage because she has no other way to support herself.

The Gender Gap is Closing

The liberation of women has certainly facilitated the liberalization of divorce laws nationwide; however, both men and women have been affected by these changes. For example, women can be ordered to pay spousal support nowadays, when that was almost unheard of in the 1960s and 1970s. What’s more, in the 21st century, fathers receive “equal consideration” in child custody cases – some say the gender gap has closed in California family law cases.

Adultery, Money, and Emotions

Adultery and emotional infidelity (e.g. a Facebook affair) are still some of the top reasons why people file for divorce, and so are financial reasons. While many couples buckle under the pressure of a job loss, extended unemployment, out-of-control spending, or a bankruptcy, still, some of the major causes of divorce are more emotional than anything else.

Common reasons why spouses want a divorce:

  • The couple simply grew apart
  • They realize they have nothing in common
  • They realize they’ll never change each other
  • Once the honeymoon phase ends, one spouse becomes controlling, critical, or overbearing
  • They’re no longer attracted to each other
  • They find each other’s company boring
  • They marry young, grow up and then apart
  • One spouse is constantly dishonest, and when all trust is lost, the innocent spouse wants a divorce
  • They argue all of the time
  • They have very different views on raising children
  • A mother-in-law is too involved in the couple’s life
  • One spouse becomes emotionally abusive
  • The spouses have different goals in life
  • The spouses are disappointed by unrealistic expectations

Since many divorce filings stem from emotional reasons, rather than abuse or abandonment, the states have relaxed their divorce laws. California is the first state to adopt no-fault divorce laws. As a no-fault divorce state, a spouse can obtain a divorce as long as they want “out.”

There is no need to point the blame on the other spouse and cite adultery, cruel and inhumane treatment, or abandonment to get a divorce. All the courts are concerned about is that the marriage is broken beyond repair. With the “no-fault” divorce model, spouses can focus on amicable divorces, they don’t have to have a highly-contentious divorce if they don’t want to.

While we will always have contested divorces, we strive to help clients achieve non-adversarial divorces as much as possible through divorce mediation and negotiation. Collaborative, uncontested divorces are beneficial for all parties involved, especially a couple’s minor children, for whom divorce can be the most distressful and whose needs can be overlooked by stressed-out parents.

Preserving the Marital Estate

We now know that roughly half of marriages in the United States end in divorce, and the chances of divorce are higher for second and subsequent marriages. With about one-half of first marriages facing dissolution, it’s wiser to approach divorce with a clear head and to treat it like a business move.

If spouses can put their differences aside and treat each other with dignity and respect, and with the ultimate goal of preserving the marital estate, divorce can be easier on all involved.

While about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, research has discovered that divorce is less common among the most educated. Experts have learned that educated people tend to marry later, at a time in their lives when they have more life and relationship experience. So, this is a positive outlook, at least for the college-educated who marry in their 30s.

Divorce Can Add Curveballs

All transitions in life can be hard and divorce can certainly add its share of curveballs, more than other life hurdles. Many of us plan in advance for major life transitions: We earn good grades so we can get a scholarship to college. We invest in a 401(k) so we can retire comfortably one day. We compare plane ticket fares before buying. Deciding to take the divorce plunge, however, can be compared to a cataclysmic event, especially if we’re not properly prepared.

Even if you’ve been daydreaming about a divorce for months, pulling the trigger can be difficult because you’re afraid of the unknowns. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the divorce process alone. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, you can be guided every step of the way.

If you’re ready to hear the “good, the bad, and the ugly” about divorce, contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free!