Are you happier if you divorce?

secret to marriageIt is officially two days until Christmas, and I have jetted off home, back to bonnie wee Scotland for the festivities. But before I went, at Stowe Family Law LLP there was work still to be done.

On Friday I became best friends with Excel. No, seriously: we have formed some sort of bond. I am now a pro at making asset schedules and budget summaries.

An asset schedule is essentially a breakdown of all the relevant assets that the couple has, such as property, money in the bank and other miscellaneous assets such as cars, life polices, jewellery et al.

All these assets must be entered into the spreadsheet to give a grand total of the all assets owned by the husband, the wife and joint property assets. Then liabilities must be entered and deducted from the total assets. In addition to this, income has to be inserted into the schedule. Ta da! Now you have an asset schedule, which will become part of the client’s file for court proceedings.

I have also been thinking about Zoe’s recent blog post about marriage. Zoe has written about research showing that married couples live longer and are happier and healthier. This all seems to come to light at this time of year, when cynically it has been said that many couples seem to divorce after the Christmas period. And this is where I come in. I recently wrote a thesis on reforms in divorce law and discovered, like Zoe, that the breakdown of marriage can lead to a rise of social problems such as crime, substance abuse and, for children, declining academic performance. This would then suggest that in fact those who are married are happier and healthier.

However, I would like to provide a different take on this. What about if those couples who divorce are actually happier? There are positive perceptions associated with divorce: adults find fulfilment and children are able to develop successfully, surrounded by dynamic family forms. Divorce, arguably, can be viewed as a “second chance for happiness.” (Paul Amato).  Essentially, people who are healthier and happier in a marriage, have to have a happy marriage. But there are arguably couples in a marital relationship who are not happy and divorce can provide the happiness they need.

This should not be taken to mean that divorce is a simple, carefree process. It is evidently stressful and traumatic. However people do recover and sometimes become happier down the road.  My thesis explored the different coping mechanisms of divorcees and how psychologically people do recover and are able to reconstruct their lives and build on the “self.”

In other words: people can be happy in marriages, but divorce can also provide individuals with happiness. Then again, this conclusion is based on statistics, and we all know what people say about them…

Anyway, I am off and back home for the holidays. I look forward to returning to the Stowe Family Law LLP – Diary of a Trainee blog in the New Year.

Image credit: Lel4nd.

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