Divorce is rarely funny, so I think it is a real testament to our British sense of humour that we can find things to laugh about in separation. These days, you are as likely to hear a comedian joke about pre-nups or division of assets as tell tales about the mother in law.
Listening to The Unbelievable Truth on Radio 4 the other day really brought this home to me. The popular show, chaired by David Mitchell, sees panellists competing against each other, talking on a specific subject and trying to smuggle nuggets of truth past opponents amid a deluge of fictitious creations.
Divorce was one of the topics on May 9. Tony Hawks came up with some gems including “divorced people smell” (“of failure” piped up Charlie Brooker, a little unkindly, as is his acerbic way), “divorced people have their own sector on the X Factor” and “Saudi Arabian women can get a divorce if her husband does not bring them coffee”.
For the record, the third of these statements is true, at least according to the programme. There was some debate on a number of others and I think what this showed was that there remain so many myths around divorce that it is difficult still for people to pick out what is true and what is not.
I believe the stigma surrounding divorce which might have attached itself to people a few years ago has now well and truly disappeared, no matter what comedians might suggest to the contrary, perhaps largely down to how commonplace it now is. However, despite it being such a common thing, with 50% of all 16-year-olds in the UK having separated parents as I mentioned last week, people still seem puzzled as to how it works.
Divorce is simply the ending of the legal obligations that marriage brings. There is no such thing as common law wife and the wife doesn’t always get half of everything – and the kids. You can commit adultery even if you are separated from your spouse, and divorce need not cost a fortune if some simple rules are followed.
These are perhaps some of the most commonly-repeated myths that we deal with. We have tried to set these right at every turn, along with many others. We have produced a free book on divorce myths (soon to be available on Kindle by the way) and created our own divorce myths website on the topic, and still we all need to do more to educate people that divorce need not be an expensive and unfathomable nightmare.
There is still a lot that needs to be done to dispel those divorce myths and ensure people have reliable information on the process – all joking aside.