Sunday, June 20, 2010

No Fault Divorce in Gotham

Who would have thought that New York required more from married folks to get a divorce than the vaunted Bible Belt?

Certainly not me.

I guess I was fooled by the evangelistic appeals to God and the rants against that godless bastion of evil known as Gotham City. I was sucked in by the claims that New York was a cesspool, filled with degenerates and low-lifes. I believed the hype and swallowed the hyperbole and equated the entire state of New York with the massive city of the same name.

In short, I may have been a fool.

But, even fools can be enlightened, and I have been. I now know that New York is currently the only state in the Union that prohibits "no-fault" divorce. It requires parties to "prove" why they can no longer live together, and while that "proof" is often not too stringent, they still get points for having the requirement.

The thing is, New York lawmakers are considering eliminating their ban on "no fault" divorces and joining the rest of the country in letting folks split for pretty much any reason. And, I think that makes me sad.

Divorce is painful. It destroys lives and families. Marriage vows are designed to be lifelong pacts, but all too often they turn out to be temporary agreements. I understand many folks feel divorce is an acceptable and necessary option in America, but I don't agree with them.

In fact, I'm troubled by how often marriages seem to break up because people just can't get along. Not because of infidelity or abuse, but because folks personalities are clashing. Speaking as a married man with married friends, it seems like personality clashes, small and large, are just part of the marriage package. They are unavoidable, and they're probably the reason why most marriage vows include "for better or worse."

At least New York's law makes folks explain why they're breaking up, and justify it in some way. You can't just dump your wife because she has a few more wrinkles and a few more pounds. You can't leave your husband because he tends to be emotionally unavailable during the playoffs. Nah, you have to prove some serious, egregious malfeasance to split up a marriage, and honestly, I like it that way. (Rather, I like the spirit of the law, not how it's actually pitifully enforced.)

Something feels wrong about one person deciding they're no longer interested in pursuing a marriage, and just walking away. Obviously, it's rare that people split up for nothing, but it still doesn't feel right that one person can decide "Hey, this isn't working for me" and there goes the marriage.

So, while I hate the crowded, people infested streets of New York City, and I'm no fan of the bitter cold winters of Buffalo, I say congrats to New York for having a marriage law with some teeth.

Here's hoping you keep things the way they are.



Redbonegirl97 said...

I suppose that keeping the law as if would continue to allow people to seek counseling and decide whether or not if it is really worth divorcing over. On the other hand there is getting out of a marriage that is not working. Making someone stay in it till they come up with a good enough reason for a divorce might cause even more problems.

Peace, Love and Chocolate

Shady_Grady said...

I can see both sides. But when you come right down to it , making someone stay in a marriage after they've already thought through it and decided they need to leave doesn't really help anyone.

It will just make both spouses miserable. It also helps drive a shadow industry of folks trying to entice their spouse into committing adultery (and capturing it on camera) as well as just making people lie about why they want to leave.

It stinks that one person can on his or her own decide that they no longer wish to share ANYTHING with their spouse for what the other spouse may not see as valid reasons but that's life.

Big Man said...


I see your point, and I appreciate the realities of life.

That said, it's not like marriages just end. People make conscious decisions to end them. To stop working and give up.

I think sometimes we forget that fact.

Raving Black Lunatic