Conceptually Examining Permission in Divorce Cases

  • A recent case in England has sparked a discussion on the concept of permission in divorce.
  • Israeli courts require permission for a spouse to be granted a divorce.
  • Texas is pursuing an end to no-fault divorce, creating a discussion with divorce on a conceptual level.

"In examining the philosophy behind granting someone the right to pursue a more functional relationship, we, as a society, can better understand how to respect the decision-making of others."

When pursuing a divorce, the idea is to improve your own life. There was something about your marriage that did not function. The relationship between you and your spouse did not include the sustenance necessary, in order to create a happy and fulfilling marriage. Sometimes, both spouses realize this, and they both understand that parting ways is the best move.

Sometimes, they do not.

Sometimes, one spouse is disinterested in the concept of a divorce, and it brings in many philosophical questions regarding the idea of permission for divorce. In wishing to continue an unhappy and dysfunctional relationship, the unwilling spouse may be trying to place herself or himself in a position of power, creating a tug of war over one’s future independence.

England’s case

There are many cultures countries where permission needs to be granted before a divorce can be finalized. There’s one particular case in England that has made headlines recently, where the courts have refused permission of a woman’s request to divorce her husband. Tini Owens has been attempting to divorce her husband, Hugh, before moving out. This was 18 months after her affair that lasted between November 2012 and August 2013 with another man came to light.

Hugh was described as “old school” and refuses to take part in the divorce. He has said that he has forgiven her infidelity and thinks the pair should stay together to “enjoy 30-odd years of shared experiences.” Tini has stated that his “constant beratement” over the affair was “unreasonable behavior,” and she stated that as part of her grounds for divorce.

The family court judge, Robin Tolson refused to grant the divorce petition and stated that Tini’s allegations against her husband were “exaggerated” and “minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage.” He also stated that the case itself was “an exercise in scraping the barrel.”

Because of the court’s decision, Tini is now forced to wait five years to divorce without her husband’s consent. She has since asked the Court of Appeals to overturn the decision.

English divorce law requires the petitioner to prove fault for an immediate divorce, but it can be granted two years after separation if both parties agree. However, because her husband does not grant his permission, she will have to wait five years or rely on the Court of Appeals to overturn the decision.

Israel’s case

Permission also is an issue in Israel, where religious law governs family matters, according to NPR. They are one of the many countries where the religious customs and cultural practices guide the family courts system.

NPR highlighted one woman, Raia Denninberg, who has spent 28 years attempting to get a divorce. The Israeli civil courts approved dividing her and her husband’s property, but then, her husband disappeared.

Because of the absent husband, the rabbis in the religious courts stated that she could not get a divorce without a husband. However, she still was subject to many of the consequences of marriage, such as a lien being put on her car due to her estranged husband owing someone money.

The Jewish courts in Israel have stated that if they find her husband, they can place him in jail. Advocacy groups are attempting to lobby for separate the civil and religious laws, but much of the attitude regarding religious and civil laws being intertwined is influenced by the rabbis who refuse to change what’s been previously decreed. This perception has influenced public discourse and has made it more difficult for change to be had, regarding permission and divorce.

The notion of being blindsided

Much of the societal discourse regarding the idea of permission and divorce stems from the notion of upheaval. The idea that ending the marriage would be blindsiding news is what many fear would occur and one of the reasons why they would find permission to be an acceptable adjacent perception in divorce talks.

The problem with that is marriages do not often end without warning. Furthermore, even if they did end without warning, that still becomes a discussion between the two individuals involved and does not require outside discourse.

The U.S.’s case

Many lawmakers in the United States also are looking to create the issue of permission within a divorce by attempting to eliminate no fault divorce in their state. Their notion is that will allow married couples the opportunity to work it out, according to Texas state representative Matt Krause.

Because an individual will have to claim legal responsibility for causing the split, the possibility for a tug of war over claiming fault is created and may make one side reconsider the notion of divorce altogether. If that were to occur, the party pursuing the divorce would be forced to throw themselves on the sword and declare fault, just to pursue their own freedom.

This type of action runs counter to what a disinterested party may do during a divorce, in not filing an Answer to the Summons and Complaint. This action results in a default judgement against the disinterested party, and if you have children, the court can make orders regarding parental rights, responsibilities, and child support without the input of the disinterested party. This also does not even touch the input and decisions that would be made without the disinterested party, regarding property and debt.

Decisions made

You, as a divorcing individual would never want these decisions to be made without your input, in a similar fashion to an individual interested in a divorce would never want someone else to make the decision that they should stay in an unhappy marriage.

In examining the philosophy behind granting someone the right to pursue a more functional relationship, we, as a society, can better understand how to respect the decision-making of others.

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