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Are People Too Casual About Divorce?

Are People Too Casual About Divorce?

There is a common complaint (though likely not one heard from family lawyers) that in today’s society, divorce is “too easy”. It’s not difficult to see where that concern comes from: the average Canadian marriage is getting shorter and shorter while divorce rates are at an all-time high.

But even so, Canadians have not caught up to some other parts of the world, in terms of having what may be viewed as a too-casual attitude toward divorce.

A few years ago, there was some controversy about a set of ads that were part of a Chicago law firm’s advertising campaign. The ads, put out by Corri Fetman & Associates Ltd., featured pictures of scantily-clad male and female torsos with the slogan “Life is Short – Get a Divorce.” They attracted criticism based on their arguably-questionable taste; in particular there was concern that the ads reflected negatively on the professionalism of the lawyers and law firm itself. (And it may not have helped the cause to know that the founding female partner in the firm, a former Playboy model and apparently the woman pictured in the contentious ads themselves, went on to write a regular column for Playboy magazine called “Love and the Law”).

In a similarly-cavalier vein, the U.K. firm named Lloyd Platt & Company, located in London, apparently offers a “divorce voucher”. These vouchers, which allow the recipient to obtain a half-hour of pre-paid divorce advice, can be given as gifts and cost less than half of what the firm normally charges per hour for legal consultation fees. The vouchers can used by the recipients to buy the short-term services of one of the firm’s lawyers, and can be applied toward the drafting of a basic divorce decree. (Since the introduction of the divorce voucher, the firm has since announced the availability of vouchers for pre- and post-nuptial agreements as well).

But even short of divorce, there are methods that now make it easier to leave even less formalized relationships. In China, for example, there is a service that allows people – through the convenience of the internet – to hire a total stranger to dump their partners for them, for the equivalent of about $30. These “break-up proxy” sites offer various packages, the most basic of which features one break-up achieved either by phone, by e-mail, or by social messaging services. On the other end of the scale, the “platinum” package includes a more personal touch: the break-up is conducted in person, and comes complete with small gifts to make the dumpee feel better.

These kinds of initiatives are certainly not for everyone’s taste. More to the point, none of them seem to exist in Canada – at least not yet.

Do you think they should?

Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers work exclusively on divorce law and family related matters, including custody, spousal support, child support, alimony and separation. For further information, or to schedule an appointment, call 1.905.655.6335.