Thursday, May 13, 2010

A bit of a rant, forgive me

The other day I was chatting with one of my nearest and dearest when a statement came pouring out of my mouth that really struck me: It is so much more complex and expensive to get a divorce than it is to get married. Consider the facts, in my case anyway:

*Cost of a marriage license:$93.50
*Waiting period: 3 days
*Required documentation: valid identification
(the option exists to take a premarital course, reducing the fee to $61 and eliminating the waiting period)

*Cost of a simplified dissolution of marriage: $409 plus form and notary costs
*Waiting period: up to 120 days
*Required documentation: extensive financial disclosures, confirmation of identity and SSN, settlement agreement, all of
which must be notarized

Am I the only one who thinks this is more than a little backwards?!? It isn't that I think getting a divorce should be easy. I think getting married should be harder! That I filed for what is really and truly called a "Simplified Dissolution of Marriage" made me laugh and cry simultaneously because it was just so preposterous. Simple? Ending what for many, and for me, was the most defining relationship of my life was so far from simple I can barely begin to tell you. So where does this name and this notion come from? And why don't the powers-that-be make it a little harder to enter into this sacred union to begin with?

Imagine, if you will, being required to disclose your full financial standing in order to get a marriage license. Sure, there are pre-nups for those who choose to have them, but I'm talking about just your average Jack and Jill, heading to the courthouse and being told that they must declare all their assets and liabilities for the other person to see, full disclosure. Would you think me wrong if I suggested that more than a few marriages might not have ended in dissolutions, whether simplified or straight-up complex and nasty, had that information been shared up front? How about compatibility profiles like the ones that you have to complete for online dating sites? Wouldn't it be just wonderful to know if your communication styles, sexual proclivities, ideas on family, etc. are in alignment with your intended's and to have the good ole' government verify all of this just to be sure?

Obviously most people don't marry perfect strangers and many of the examples I've given are things that we tend to know about our partner before entering into the contract of marriage, or at least we believe we know them. And as I and every other person who has been through a breakup or a divorce will tell you, knowing these things is not always a predictor of your likelihood to succeed. Life happens. Love changes. Relationships end. I just can't help but think it is entirely ironic and wrong that our society condones such an easy entrance into the most delicate and complex of relationships and then forces you to endure such a complicated and painful process in order to get out of it. Don't you think we've experienced enough pain if we're at the point where we are seeking a divorce? I know I sure have and this icing on the proverbial cake is the most bitter of all.

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