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Divorce on demand law eyed in Britain while US divorce rates rise and fall

Dave Masko's picture

A woman in England sued for divorce because her husband insisted she dress in a Star Trek “Klingon” costumer and speak to him in Klingon; while Britain doesn’t have no-fault divorce laws like the U.S.

While lawmakers in Great Britian pushed for a “no-fault” divorce law in 1996, The New York Times reported on its cover page, April 8 Sunday edition, that the bill didn’t pass amid worries that it would “make divorce too easy.” However, things are changing now in 2012, with “fault-finding Britain’s believing there's new cause to push for no-fault divorce like laws in America. For instance, The New York Times reported how a “woman sued for divorce because her husband insisted she dress in a Klingon costume and speak to him in Klingon.” Then, there’s another man in England who wants a divorce after he told a divorce lawyer that “his wife had maliciously and repeadtedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole. “It’s insane,” exlained British divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt during an interview for The New York Times, asserting: “These things should not have any part in the procedure” for divorce; but the reported stating “they come up all the time in Britain, which unlike every state in America does not have a no-fault divorce law.” At the same time, the recently released U.S. Cenus analysis - based on 2009 data from the American Community Survey – stated a sample of 3 million U.S. households found “roughly 1.1 million children, or 1.5 percent of all U.S. children, lived in 2009 in the home of a parent who divorced in the previous year.”

American’s getting divorced a lot

The U.S. Census also stated there were there were “19.1 weddings performed per 1,000 men and 17.6 per 1,000 women across the U.S. in 2009, while divorces became final for 9.2 of every 1,000 men and 9.7 of every 1,000 women."

By region, the U.S. Census stated that “the South and West had the most marriages, with rates of roughly 19 per 1,000. But they also led in divorces, each at about 10 per 1,000.”

Overall, the U.S. Census stated that Maine, Alaska, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nevada, “ranked at the top for divorces, while Utah, Wyoming and Arkansas – which had the highest marriage rates – were also higher than average in marital breakups. New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York ranked among the lowest in divorces.”

English struggling with no-fault divorce

Wen Susan and Douglas Rae aired “the mundane details of their imploding marriage last month in London’t Court of Appeal, the judge in the case criticized English divorce law for allowing such ‘picayune matters’ to become an issue at all.”

In turn, the British judge noted that if the government had “enacted past proposal to allow no-fault divorce," reported the Times while also noting how the judge, Justice Matthew Thorpe, told the court, “there would have been no need for these painful investigations, which seem to represent the social values of a bygone age.”

The New York Times also reported how Judge Thorpe granted “Mr. Rae’s petition for divorce, despite Mrs. Rae’s argument that their problems were ‘nomal squabbiling between husband and wife’ and not deal-breakingly bad.”

Under current British law, reported The New York Times in this page one report: “Divorces are granted only under one of five categories, including adultery and abandonment. About half of the cases fall under the heading of a broad category called unreasonable behavior, in which one party has to accuse the other of acting so unreasonably that living together has become intolerable."

What Brits want to divorce over

Inspired by Justice Thorpe’s remarks, The New York Times asked British lawyer Lloyd Platt for a list of some of the “odder accusations of fault she and other lawyers have come across in divorce peitions. In addition to the Klingon man, there was a woman who said her husband had not spoken to her for 15 years, communicating only by Post-it-note. And thee was the man whose wife ‘would without justification flirt with any buyildr or transman, inappropriately touching them and declaring that she could not stop herself.’”

One other British divorce petition read: “The respondent insisted that his pet tarantula, Timmy, slept in a glass case next to the matrimonial bed,” even though his fie requested “that Timmy sleep elsewhere.”

In some cases, though, The New York Times report noted how the British tend to use the divorce petition “as an instrument of punishment,” explained Patrick Chamberlayne, a divorce lawyer in London.

“The more angry the person, the more they dislike the other person, the more likely you will find extreme examples of behavior. Sexual impropriety, extreme sexual behavior, every vice you can imagine, drugs, prostitution, homosexuality." In turn, the lawyer said, "the more wounded you are, the more this stuff pours out,” explained Chamberlayne in The New York Times interview.

While a spokeswoman for Britian’s Ministry of Justice told The New York Times last week that the government had no plans "to reform the law” that bans no-fault divorce in England, the debate on who should be allowed divorce in fault-finding Britain continues with more married people in England wanting a "no-fault" divorce way out.

Image source of two Star Trek original TV series Klingon males and a female from the 1967 episode “Day of the Dove” are featured with bronzed skin, facial hair, but a lack of ridged foreheads that’s common in modern Klingon’s; while a British man insisted his wife dress as a Klingon; while the wife used that Klingon demand as grounds for divorce. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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