How couples fight is key to staying together or divorcing, professor says
Bob wakes up one day, and his wife has left. For a couple of weeks she had left periodically, but this time she does not plan on coming back.
Two years ago, Bob's wife of one year, decided she wanted a divorce. Bob was shocked. The divorce has taught him that life is fragile and anything can change suddenly.
Bob -- who asked that his real name not be used -- did not want the divorce, but said his wife gave up on the marriage. The key issue in situation was lack of communication. Fortunately in this case, no children were involved.
Bob chose to remain anonymous because divorce can be a personal and emotional issue. Like the situation he and his spouse had endured, divorce can be an unexpected and a painful process for many couples.
"The latest literature shows that it's not the problems, but the way couples fight about the problems," said Scot Allgood, associate professor of family and human development.
Allgood works at the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic at the Family Life Center on 493 North 700 East, in Logan. The effects of a divorce can often include the person having to reveal identity as a single person, again. The person, who left or was left, often has to change their circle of friends and deal with economics on their own, Allgood said.
Psychologically, there is a sense of loss that women and men can go through differently. Women are often more lonely whereas men have regrets and can be vindictive, after a divorce. Depending on the cultural background of the family, divorce can also seem as a major trauma for the family. There is less divorce among people who marry later in life. Also, women who conceive babies before marriage are more likely to divorce, according to Split Up: Helping People Deal with Divorce website.
Allgood supports this statement and said couples that marry under the age of 20 and have a baby, have an 85 to 95 percent chance of divorce, because pregnancy is hard and many do not know how emotional the affect of pregnancy at a young age can be.
Possibly fewer women divorce now than a decade ago, according to the Split Up website.
Women are willing to put up with more, but when they decide it's over, it is over, Allgood said.
Getting a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. In some states divorce is called dissolution of marriage. A divorce usually involves the division of marital property. If children are involved, than their must be child custody and child support arrangements made, according to Nolo.com, a website about law.
If the two parties work together when filing a divorce, they can be divorced for about $35, Allgood said.
After one decides to file a divorce he or she can decide to go with a mediator or a lawyer. The nightmare stories heard about divorce often involve legal bills, court battles and emotional scars on both the parents and the children, according to Nolo.com.
Mediation is a different way of approaching divorce because the hired mediator acts as a third party in the situation. The other avenue is to choose an attorney that would take on one side of the issue. Mediation is quicker and easier, especially on the children, according to Nolo.com.
From an attorney's perspective, a big push in mediating as many types of cases you can, is a growing trend. "Address mediation as an issue immediately," Eric B. Barnes, attorney with concentration in Divorce and Family Law; Adoptions; Guardianships and Real Estate, said.
"My suggestion to people who are close to reaching an agreement is to go to mediation before involving lawyers. However, mediation does not replace attorneys, but can save a lot of cost and stress," Barnes said. In some cases, hiring an attorney is more beneficial to the situation.
If a person chooses to go to an a a lawyer and his or her approach. This way the person will end up with someone they are happy with.
When Bob hired an attorney, he searched the yellow pages, and after talking to a few, found the one who would be best for him.
There can be various legal implications that come with filing for divorce. Barnes explained the process for an uncontested divorce. The basic process is you file a divorce complaint and the other party has 20 days to respond to the complaint. If other side does respond, than litigation can occur, which is the gathering of information for a trial. Then the persons involved schedule a pre-trial hearing and it is put on record.
A contested divorce is when neither party can come to an agreement and the case is taken to trial to present the evidence. Utah doesn't have jury trials in this situation. The judge decides the case, Barnes said. When the marriage is uncontested, both parties can come to an agreement and settle a divorce, Barnes said.
The way a divorce is carried out, depends on the laws of the state. Most laws involving human relationships are laws governed by the state. Each state is different in the way they handle divorce, Barnes said. Utah has 90-day waiting period before a divorce can be settled. That is the exact amount of time the divorce took for Bob.
The reason there is a waiting period is because if people wait, there's a chance the parties could reconcile. The waiting period is also known as the "cooling off period," Barnes said.
When children are involved, the waiting period can be waived.
"In my opinion, if we keep certain people together, keep the ones with children together," Barnes said.
The length of a divorce case can take a few hours up to years. When dealing with an attorney, most cases last up to two weeks, when everyone's on the same page.
The length of a case can often be caused when less attention or effort is given to the case. Some cases may slip through the cracks and are then settled years down the road, Barnes has encountered.
Once a divorce is settled, both parties have a three-month period to have claims set aside. After the three months, if the two parties don't like the terms that were agreed upon, it can be more difficult, Barnes added.
Barnes has seen various divorce cases. The most common cause of divorce has been the use of Internet. About once a week, Barnes has seen a case where their spouse is involved in Internet pornography.
Another cause of divorce can be younger couples marrying because she got pregnant or they both want to disobey their parents. Situations such as this, face more risk of the marriage failing, Barnes said.
The other common case observed is found in couples that have been married over 25 years. The reason is they were married at a time when divorce was not an option to them. Now the two just do not want to be together, and decide to file for divorce.
There is no simple answer to the reason couples divorce, Allgood said.
The question is broad and so is the answer.
"I see a broad spectrum from newly weds to people married for two to three years, or five, six, seven years," Barnes said.
Allgood believes the biggest problem in a marriage is when people can't deal with their problems. Other factors that can question idea of divorce are depression, not getting along with parents, or interactions with each other.
"It's not that they can't resolve them, but they learn how to work around it," Allgood said.
Although the cases are more personal, the fact is that Utah has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.
Why is the rate so high in Utah?
"We live in a country that tends to accept living together. In Utah, (we feel we) 'gotta be married' and run out and get married. It's not culturally accepted to co-habituate," Barnes said.
However, Nevada has the highest divorce rate, in which it is more available to get married and get a divorce easier, Allgood said.
Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate.
"Divorce is something that's been a part of life," Barnes said.
Although divorce is a part of life, so can the affects of a divorce.
Will Bob ever remarry?
He plans on it. When will Bob overcome the pain and heartache he has endured to a point where he will not want to remain anonymous?
Luckily in Bob's case and in many others, the psychology department has a clinic in the Education Building, Room 413. This clinic provides counseling for individuals, marital problems, families and children. The marriage and family situations work with more than one counselor, usually once a week for one hour to discuss goals and what to work on, Amy Wilberg, secretary, said.
"We work with families and individuals with a variety of problems, and severe problems such as eating disorders," Kevin Stein, psychology department professor, said.
The counseling center consists of Family Human Development students who are training, while teaching and counseling others. The students range in experience from first-year to five-year students. Psychological testing and assessment and educational learning assessment are techniques used.
The USU counseling center, located in the Taggart Student Center, Room 306, also offers marital counseling to students for free, whereas the psychology clinic charges. Both the Family Life Center and the Psychology clinic are opened to the community. The counseling center services are only offered to students.
Whether choosing to seek counseling on campus or on a community level, divorce is an issue that can be worked with before the papers are signed. If both parties work together on issues, the truth is that divorce does not always have to be the only option.
Bob's case took 90 days. Other states have different waiting periods. There is no more time to wait if a couple facing the road of divorce. Divorce is a serious matter that not every couple has to face when dealing with conflict.
Giving up may seem easy but communication between the two parties will prove a more promising path in the marriage.