Archive for June, 2012

Second Chance

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

A one-year divorce waiting period is among the recommendations of a study by the Institute for American Values as a way of reducing preventable divorce.

The study — Second Chances: A Proposal to Reduce Unnecessary Divorce, — is Intended for state lawmakers. The study not only reveals new research that is certain to dramatically change the debate surrounding this issue, but also offers concrete recommendations aimed at policy makers for modest ways to reduce unnecessary divorce.

The principal investigators of Second Chances are William J. Doherty, Professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota, and Leah Ward Sears, partner at Schiff Hardin LLP and former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.

Doherty and Sears describe two widespread misconceptions that currently exist when it comes to divorce: First, the majority of divorces happen after many years of conflict and misery, and secondly, that once a couple files for divorce, they don’t consider the idea of reconciling. Both of these popular notions are wrong.

Second Chances builds upon a growing body of scholarly research that suggest most couples who divorce are actually very similar to couples who stay married. Longitudinal research over the past decade shows that a majority of divorced couples actually report average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years prior to the divorce. Moreover, about 40 percent of U.S. couples already well into the divorce process say that one or both of them are interested in the possibility of reconciliation. In this, Doherty and Sears say that those U.S. divorces today that are most likely to harm children are precisely those divorces that appear to have the greatest potential for reconciliation.

The major findings of Second Chances include:

> About 40 percent of couples already deeply into the divorce process report that one or both spouses are interested in the possibility of reconciliation.

> A modest reduction in divorce would benefit more than 400,000 U.S. children each year.

> A modest reduction in divorce would produce significant savings for U.S. taxpayers.

Based on their research, Doherty and Sears propose a Second Chances Act for U.S. State Legislatures to consider. It would provide married couples that are thinking about divorce the time and educational resources necessary to make reconciliation a viable option. Second Chances offers three specific recommendations:

> Extend the waiting period for divorce to at least one year, with a voluntary early notification letter individuals may use to let their spouses know their intentions without necessarily filing for divorce.

> Require pre-filing education for parents of minor children considering divorce, with a module on reconciliation and a module on a non-adversarial approach to divorce.

> Create university-based centers of excellence to improve the education available to couples at risk of divorce.

“Both of us sincerely believe that the modest reforms contained in our proposed Second Chances Act can contribute measurably to reducing unnecessary divorce in the United States,” said Doherty and Sears.

Unemployed Men More Likely to Divorce

Friday, June 15th, 2012

A recent research project has revealed that men who lose their jobs are more likely to get divorced than employed men.

The study, by Liana Sayer of Ohio State University, used data from the US National Survey of Families and Households on over 3,600 couples, to look at the impact employment status had on the decision of both men and women to end a marriage.

It found that a woman’s decision to divorce was not generally affected by her work situation, unless she was already in a very unhappy marriage. However, men who were out of work were not only more likely to be divorced by their wives than employed men, but were also more likely to initiate a divorce themselves, even where there were no other problems in the marriage.

Divorce Manners, One, Two, Three

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Debrett’s, which publishes a number of guides on traditional British etiquette, has published a book on how to behave during a divorce.

In preparing the book, Debrett’s teamed up with the divorce lawyers Mishcon de Reya, which represented the late Princess Diana, for the publication.

Debrett’s Guide to Civilised Separation, which provides tips on how to break the news to friends and colleagues and information on the process of divorce, so that emotionally distraught couples in maintaining decorum in the midst of their battles over custody and cash.

“Throwing your husband’s vintage wine collection down the loo or cutting his suits to shreds might seem like a therapeutic gesture when you’re in the throes of rage and despair, but it can rebound on you and undermine your case,” the book advises. It also warns about becoming a “divorce bore” as a person risks being “struck off the dinner-party guest list.”

In keeping with its focus on good manners, the guide says that being “relentlessly polite and civilized” will “defuse any fall-out” from the split.

The book advises “friendly Christmas cards” to the in-laws and estranged friends and urges people to take a “minder” to events attended by the ex.

The minder monitors their “behavior, alcohol intake and emotions”.