A new trend seems to be permeating the divorce arena, divorce selfies. Instagram has a #divorceselfies, twitter is awash with them and facebook pages have been updated to show beaming couples on the courthouse steps sharing this major change in their lives. In a world where all your life is on social media, it would apparently seem churlish not to share this momentous occasion with your online friends and family. One Canadian couple had their divorce selfie shared over 30,000 times after they posted a divorce selfie outside the courthouse in Calgary Canada.
Whilst for the majority of divorcing couples the idea of posing together happily proclaiming their divorce may be a step to far, and to some it may even appear disrespectful to the painful process that they have been through, the rise of the divorce selfie is in line with the rise in the desire of divorcing couples for an amicable divorce. The thought that you could emerge from the divorce process with a workable relationship with your former partner is appealing to many. Today the emphasis is on conciliatory divorce and mediation. Trying to move onto the next step in your lives without too much collateral damage.
Ms Neuman, pictured above explained how the pair ‘respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably ended their marriage which will allow them to co-parent moving forward removing the need for their children to have to choose between them. Whilst this may be an ideal to which many couples would like to live up to but find it hard to achieve, professionals in the field are working hard to help those who are trying to reach those goals.
Divorce selfies give the impression that the divorce was easy for the couple and there are some who question whether a divorce that ended so amicable was actually a marriage waiting to be saved. In my opinion this is misunderstanding the selfie. A divorce selfie is a statement “we made it through to the other side”. It is not saying that there was not a lot of hurt and obstacles to overcome along the way. It means that there were, but they were overcome and here we are on the other side. This is the lesson which I believe that those who accompany a couple through their divorce, whether lawyers therapists or mediators should keep in mind. There may be hardships along the way but the aim is to emerge from them all with a sense of moving forward productively, especially where children are involved. All too often people starting the process of divorce have many voices surrounding them saying “yes you want a civilised divorce but it never ends up that way”. The divorce selfie is evidence that it may be hard, but it can be done. This is the message professionals need to convey to their clients.
There has been a lot of talk around this subject. When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their “conscious uncoupling” the media reacted in a frenzy of disbelief and cynicism. The “conscious uncoupling” term is a semantic nightmare and smacks of Hollywood media spin. The idea of a wholly acrimonious free divorce is hard to believe, however the spirit behind it is worth investigating. It is important to stress to clients that although there is acrimony, hard work, pain and obstacles to overcome, there is the option of coming through the divorce with a positive relationship with your former partner.
Professionals should be supporting their clients towards the idea that though it may be a difficult journey there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Workable solutions can be found that will allow for each person to move forward and still retain a civilised workable relationship with their former partner.
Expectations play a large part in any divorce process. In the arena of mediation there are sometimes expectations that the process should be very amicable and easy. When the couple encounter difficulties and hardships they may want to give up on the process. At this point it is very important for whoever is advising or mediating to stress that a difficult process does not mean a bad ending. The couples pictured in a divorce selfie went through a hard process but did ultimately succeed in their goals.
Legal systems around the world have moved towards a bias for mediation and conciliatory methods in the divorce arena for many reasons, including cost accessibility and fast tracking long drawn out court cases, but one of the best reasons which is often overlooked, is that at the end of the process, you are much more likely to come out with a divorce selfie from mediation than you ever will from litigation.