Divorce is an act that would forever remain in the realms of grey. Its rightness and wrongness are decided by the context. It could be a positive act for one partner and negative for the other. In many Asian countries, where individual is less important than the family, a divorce affects not just the two parties to it but their other relatives as well.
For a warring couple, the freedom that a divorce gives is as necessary as the happiness that marriage gives to romantic lovers. A marriage involves enormous commitment and for those who cannot manage it, it is healthier to opt out. In olden days, only grave reasons were considered grounds for divorce. However, in the current day cultural context, there is no dearth of reasons that could lead to divorce.
Infidelity, where a spouse starts an amorous relationship with another individual, is a very common cause for divorce. With everyone working outside home, there are ample opportunities these days for such situations to develop. Alcoholism, drug abuse, criminal behavior, insanity etc. are other common grounds under which divorce is granted.
When an individual’s whereabouts is not known for a specific number of years or if he willfully abandon’s his family, divorce is considered a suitable recourse. Emotional abuse, lack of communication between spouses, and constant quarrelling can also eventually lead to divorce.
Personality differences, or disparity in personal and career goals, were not earlier considered reasons strong enough to rock a marriage. But these, along with intellectual incompatibility, inability to meet the spouse’s expectations, or ideological or idiosyncratic differences, can lead to divorce today.
A divorce may be absolute or limited. In the former, the decree is absolute, and there is no inheritance right for both, from the other, after that. Court would separate the assets and decide other details like child support payment etc., after which both are free to remarry. In the latter, though the court settles most issues, the parties are not completely free of the bond. They cannot remarry till a designated period and if one of them dies during that period, the other inherits.
The absolute divorce is itself divided into ‘no fault’ divorce and ‘fault’ divorce. Personality clashes and incompatibility are sufficient grounds for a ‘no fault’ divorce. But a ‘fault’ divorce can be obtained only under more serious grounds like infidelity, criminal behavior, or abandonment.
Twentieth century has seen steadily rising divorce rate in much of the developing countries. In USA more teenage marriages are seen to be ending in divorce than that of those who marry after their careers are on track. Divorce rate is comparatively low in Asian countries.
As in much of society’s changes, new institutions have arisen to respond to the problem of increasing divorce. Marriage counseling is an arena that provides employment opportunities for many today. Counseling is effective when undertaken in the early stages of disagreement. It is unlikely to help once differences have hardened. Where violence and cruelty is involved, it is desirable not to try to reunite the couple.
A marriage is supposed to be for ‘better or worse.’ For better, everybody is ready to stay. But nowadays no one seems to be ready to stay for worse.