Home World Divorce in the rich world is becoming less disgusting

Divorce in the rich world is becoming less disgusting


SCAT AND his then-wife, who lives in Australia, had a vile but unusual divorce. Their lawyers, he said, “rewrote each other’s testimonies and legal letters” for eight months. Their children were included in the federal police list so that they could not be taken abroad. The couple reached an agreement before going to court, but Scott still spent A $ 35,000 ($ 25,000) on legal costs. If they went to court, there would be little money left for the division. It was “like playing poker,” Scott says. “You never show your full hand.” The militants were forced to be insidious. Like many divorces, it was bitter and costly.

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A few years later, Scott and his ex started a quarrel again – because of custody. This time it was less unpleasant. They took advantage of state-funded mediation services. Mediators and advisers provided a neutral environment by offering ways to soften arguments. “It may seem bad, but the middlemen really gave me a lot of positive and practical advice,” Scott says. He stopped using the word “you” aggressively during the quarrel and learned not to provoke defensive responses. Mediation cost several hundred dollars. When a close friend decided to divorce, Scott advised him to turn immediately to a middleman to save time, money and anger.

No one pretends that divorce will always be peaceful. But in a rich world this is gradually being seen more as a relationship problem, less as a legal one. Alternatives to competition are becoming more common. Fewer countries require a distribution of blame. All of this makes the process a little less awful for couples and their children.

Last year, the governments of England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate jurisdiction over family matters) distributed £ 500 vouchers ($ 683) to subsidize divorce mediation. In April this year, couples in England and Wales will be able to divorce quickly without pleading guilty and without having to live separately for at least two or five years (depending on whether both halves of the couple agree to separate). Previously, one spouse had to accuse the other of misconduct, treason, or desertion. In 2019, 54% of English and Welsh people were divorced on the basis of adultery or unreasonable behavior.

Sweden got rid of the need to blame one of the spouses in 1915. Australia abandoned this in 1975. In 1969, California became the first US state to do so, New York – the last in 2010. The trend continues elsewhere. In “no-fault” jurisdictions, the state does not need to know why the marriage ends, although many countries still require a cooling-off period before the breakup is formally completed. In many jurisdictions that have pleaded not guilty, couples can file for divorce together. “Psychologically, it’s huge,” said Samantha Woodham, a British lawyer. The end of the accusation game means that the couple starts their divorce in a less vicious way.

Since 1990, divorce has become easier for at least 30 of the 38 members OECD, a club of rich countries. Alternatives to litigation are spreading. In mediation the couple seeks agreement with the help of a neutral judge. In Norway and Australia most couples with divorced children should at least give it a try. In England, they must listen to information about mediation if there is no violence. The Dutch resort to mediation without recourse to 41% of divorces.

“Divorce together” is another option. Each partner has their own lawyer. But the couple signs an agreement that will not go to court. If they can’t reach a deal, they have to find new lawyers. This creates an incentive to settle. At least 20,000 attorneys have been trained to help couples divorce in this way, according to the American Bar Association.

Australia has received awards for trying to make divorce less bitter. In 2006, the federal government began funding “family relations centers” that are largely run by charities, offering free and cheap mediation. They help families adapt to a new life. Parents take classes on how divorce can affect their children. Inexperienced parents were even offered cooking lessons. The centers began as an alternative to the legal path. Ireland and some Canadian provinces also offer free or cheap mediation.

Businesses get involved. DivorceHotel, a firm from the Netherlands with branches in America and other countries, offers a “concept based on mediation to provide a professional, fast and affordable way to divorce … We see your divorce not only as the end of your marriage but also as the beginning of a new phase in your life ”. Couples stay (in separate rooms) at a luxury hotel where mediation lasts over the weekend; between classes you can do a massage or play golf.

Another firm, It’s Over Easy, offers legal advice on filling out forms, co-raising and changing last names for American couples in the event of divorce. Some law firms advertise themselves as advisors for both halves of a divorcing couple, not just for one spouse. It is practiced in France, Italy and the Netherlands and extends to England.

I bet you hide it

In a competitive system, lawyers spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out “what’s in the pot,” and each side often challenges the answer. Such disputes are usually less severe when the couple receives the same advice from the same law firm. The parting couple will most likely fulfill the terms both voluntarily agreed to, not the ones appointed by the judge.

Five years after Australia set up family relations centers, the number of disputes involving children in the courts has fallen by 32%. When the centers were established, 32% of those who divorced and cared for children had “conflicted or fearful relationships” with exes. Three years later, the figure dropped to 15%.

Collaborative approaches also save money. Therapists and mediators tend to be cheaper than lawyers. Paying for one legal team instead of two clearly reduces costs. In a competitive divorce, lawyers usually charge an hourly rate, which creates an incentive to prolong the battle. So the process gets faster. Many non-competitive systems have fixed prices.

Even if the division of money is the most contentious issue, as is often the case with the rich or childless, progress leads to less bitter results. In the 1960s, alimony was awarded in about a quarter of American divorces. It has since dropped to about 10%. Between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, alimony in Switzerland fell from about half to one-third. In Germany and some American states, the length of the sentence may be limited; as soon as the ex-husband spent, say, seven years, his commitments ended. In England, alimony for a spouse can be awarded indefinitely, but it is also becoming less common. In the Scandinavian countries, almost no one pays alimony – by default it was assumed that both parties are able to support themselves. Judges across the West are becoming more willing to take clean breaks.

Relationships are changing all over the rich world. Large-scale divorce litigation, Ms. Woodham says, “is getting a little awkward.” Celebrities advertise the benefits of “conscious separation”. More divorced families “nest”: children live full time in the same house, and their parents fly back and forth like birds, who take turns watching their eggs. Parents can even jointly own an apartment where a non-working person can live. A British survey conducted by Co-Op Legal Services found that 11% of divorced or divorced British couples tried to get a bird. The American sitcom “Let’s Divide Together”, based on the Danish, shows a family trying to force her to work.

Divorced parents spend more time with their children. In Sweden in the mid-1980s, only 1% of children with divorced parents regularly lived with both; usually they stayed with the mother. Now about 40% do. Other rich countries are seeing the same trend. Parents receive custody more often than before. Some interior design firms now specialize in decorating their homes. Children who spend at least 35% of their time with each parent after a divorce tend to feel better emotionally, according to Linda Nielsen of Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

The laws of Australia, Sweden and some US states require judges to consider splitting the detention period more or less in the middle. It also means a cultural shift: more mothers work outside the home and more parents are involved in raising their children. However, joint custody can be difficult. Buy two sets is expensive. Parents need to find work in the same city. Those who make it work tend to be richer and better educated.

Trouble winners take away everything

In Japan, where divorce is much less common than in Europe and America, many people think that joint custody is harmful to children. Courts do not award it, although families may agree to it privately. Many divorced parents are allowed to see their children for only three hours a month. The Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, an advocacy group, estimates that 58% of Japanese children with divorced parents lose contact with someone they do not live with. This “winner takes it all” system leads to fierce payoffs.

In Scandinavia there are fewer battles for money between divorcing couples. In Sweden, the rules regarding assets are so clear that several couples are fighting for them: they are divided equally. Courts estimate child support is a monthly minimum of about $ 185. General education is the norm. Lawyers are rarely involved.

Divorce rates in most rich countries have declined or remained about the same since 1990 because fewer people marry in the first place (see Figure 1). У EU 18% of children born in 1993 were out of wedlock. By 2019, this figure had risen to 43% (see Chart 2). The Scandinavian figure is 53%. But arrangements for children whose parents ’extramarital affair fails are also becoming more cooperative.

Worldwide, divorce still entails abundant tears, regrets and resentments. But the removal of the judicial distribution of guilt and the trend towards faster, cheaper and less competitive ways to end a marriage certainly ease the burden of unhappiness, especially for children who find themselves in the middle.


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