By Gloria James
Whenever a new client comes to see me for a divorce matter, the one key question we usually ask is [for soul-searching purposes] :
Has your marriage broken down?
And if the answer is YES, then the next question i ask is:
Is this from your view point?
And if the answer is YES, then your marriage has indeed broken down.
This should be, and is in fact, the main focus and rationale for commencing divorce proceedings. As such, it would be useful to take some time to reflect on the following questions:
- Has your marital relationship with your spouse broken down?
- Is your marriage loveless and just a broken shell?
- Is reconciliation an impossibility?
Allow us to take it from here.
We offer a free 30-minute consultation with one of our family lawyers.
If your answers to the above questions are YES, then this merely brings us to the next question:
If not now, when?
This is a question to which there is no “correct” answer.
“The ultimate decision, which is inevitably a highly personal one, lies with you”
Let me share the following matters for which I had been engaged in the past.
In one prior matter, despite husband and wife being more than 80 years of age, the wife nevertheless proceeded to file for divorce. For her, the marriage had broken down many years ago, but she did not wish to spend her last years going over her unhappy marriage. Her wish was a simple one; to die ‘single’ and happy.
In another matter, a husband filed for divorce against his wife, who was being treated for 4th stage cancer at the time. Unfortunately, she passed on before the divorce could be finalised, and the matter had to be abated.
In a recent matter, parties were in their silver years; the wife was suffering from cancer, and the husband had heart problems.
Coincidentally, both instructed lawyers to file for divorce almost simultaneously. When I asked my female client why she wanted to file for divorce, she did not state her illness as a reason, but pointed that the relationship had indeed broken down and she did not wish to remain in an unhappy marriage.
From the above that I have shared with you, putting ethics and moral issues aside, and marriage vows notwithstanding, society as a whole is becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of getting a divorce.
Why do I say this?
The ideals embodied in our marriage vows “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” are fast being recognised by many as an unrealistic standard of perfection.
In particular, numerous articles over the years have observed that divorces are more likely to end when a spouse falls ill, and even more so when the illness is of a chronic nature.
Last but not least, divorce proceedings are conducted on an entirely private and confidential basis between husband and wife, their lawyers and the Court.