Since Henry the Eighth first obtained a divorce from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533, divorce has had a long and tortuous history. Henry the Eighth was motivated by a desire to marry Anne Boleyn so that he could have a male heir; however, after multiple miscarriages, he accused her of adultery and had her beheaded. Fortunately, England adopted the Matrimonial Causes Act in 1857, allowing ordinary people to obtain a divorce without the need for papal blessing. Since then, divorce laws in both England and America have eased somewhat so that couples in a bad relationship can obtain a divorce without resorting to desperate measures.
I am often asked why my clients seek a divorce. I have learned that there are many reasons. The most common is that the couple was not compatible in the first place, and only learn that after moving in and trying to start a life together. If they do not share the same values, goals or interests, they either work together to overcome those issues, or the issues fester and spoil the relationship. Other couples may share the same values, goals and interests, but “fall out of love” or become incompatible over time. When they realize this, one or the other often seeks a divorce. Many marriages fail when a child is born, and different approaches to child rearing or the stress of raising a child cause fractures in their relationship. And finally, there are divorces brought on by life changing events, such as when one partner has an affair, develops a gambling problem, an alcohol dependency, or quits work and refuses to contribute to the marriage. These are only some of the reasons people seek a divorce. But when they do, the best way to resolve it is by reaching an agreement and moving on to a new life. Alternatively, the Courts provide an avenue by which the parties will be granted a divorce if they cannot reach an agreement between themselves.
I was amazed by a recent article I found that describes a 70 year old man so desperate to end his marriage that he robbed a bank, sat down in the lobby and waited for the police so that he could be sent to jail rather than live with his wife.
Fortunately for all of us, this is not necessary. I cannot fathom a marriage so bad that a person would want to spend up to 7 to 20 years in jail rather than remain married. I suspect that this person had not consulted an attorney, or he would have learned that marriage does not need to be a trap. One can escape an unhappy marriage, and there are much better ways to do so than submit to handcuffs and a jail cell. In Maryland, a couple without a minor child can obtain a divorce by mutual consent, and does not even need to wait a year to finalize their divorce. If you are in an unhappy relationship and need to consult someone, please call us at the Gardner Law Firm and we will be glad to consult with you on your options.