Following a photograph posted by a Canadian ex-couple – Shannon and Chris Neuman – on the filing of their divorce, the concept of the #divorceselfie has been trending.
The idea espoused by the Neumans is that a marriage can be ended “respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably”, and the former couple can move forwards as “parenting partners” for their children; never making them choose between their parents. They encourage other separating couples to see that remaining friends through a divorce is a possibility, and to try to do this for the sake of their children.
In today’s world, selfies are a huge part of social media, and if they get caught up in an idea their popularity can increase exponentially, sometimes reaching thousands if not tens of thousands of people. An article by the Daily Mail has brought together other divorce selfies, of people in a variety of countries posting photographs of them – seemingly happy – sometimes even posing with their divorce paperwork. It seems one couple even live tweeted the moments that ended their legal marriage.
So is it possible to stay respectful throughout a divorce? Clearly for these couples, they believe it is. They seem to be choosing to honour the journey of the relationship rather than mourn its conclusion.
What is noticeable however is that many of the photographs used by the Daily Mail are of couples outside of England and Wales (there appear to be photographs from the US and Canada, and discussions about divorce ceremonies in Australia). This can perhaps be linked to the fact that at present in England and Wales it is not possible to divorce without either waiting for two years from separation, or alleging fault on the part of the other spouse. For those who do not wish to wait, they are forced by the system to ‘sling mud’ at their spouse (for a more detailed analysis of this, please see this. This is understandably often not conducive to an amicable split.
As everything does, this new trend has its critics. There are those who see this as trivialising divorce (and also extending this to trivialising marriage in the first instance). However when a couple have come to a conclusion that their marriage has come to an end, it does seem almost an act of additional cruelty to insist that one rub salt in the emotional wounds of the other to legally terminate the marriage at the time they wish to do so. Especially where children are involved – and therefore the couple are likely to have to maintain a co-parenting relationship for a number of years – it would seem that whatever respect and dignity can be salvaged from the relationship ought to be, for the sake of the couple and of the children. A Bill for no fault divorce may be on the cards for the future, but today’s couples still face a very difficult, fault-based process.
For those who are in a place where they can take a divorce selfie – they have perhaps followed the Neumans’ advice “that it’s possible to love your kids more than you hate/distrust/dislike your ex”. Emotionally it is difficult, but for children caught up in a divorce they are more likely to find things easier if their parents are on civil terms than at each other’s throats. You do not need to take a selfie, but an element of respect could go an awfully long way in such an emotionally fraught process.
Here at The Family Law Company we handle hundreds of divorce cases every single year. Should you be at the early stages of divorce proceedings or simply would like to seek some professional advice, contact your nearest Family Law office today.
Speak to one of our Exeter based Divorce specialists – +44(0)1392 421777
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