A recent post by Nate Russell on the Courthouse Libraries BC blog has got me thinking about just how lucky we are when it comes to getting a divorce in British Columbia today.
As Nate points out, not too many years ago:
…publication in the Canada Gazette (plus community newspapers besides) was prerequisite to a divorce petition. Not that long ago, it fell to the mustachioed Honourable Messieurs of the Senate to judge whether the necessary element of adultery had been proved—the original, and once sole, ground for divorce. Special Committee would report to the House of Commons, and some time later the successful petitioner could have his or her name and cuckoldry proclaimed in nothing less formal than an act of Parliament complete with its own chapter number.
Living here and now, it is hard to imagine that getting a divorce in B.C. could ever have involved such a humiliating, public exhibition of one’s private life. It is even harder to imagine the harsh realities that characterize spousal conflict in so many other places on our planet.
Obviously, divorce today is still anything but a sunny matter and watching the distinctly non-Ferrarian evolution of family law in B.C. can be discouraging for those who feel it still has a long journey ahead of it. But, as Nate’s post reminds us, the clouds that accompany so many marital split-ups do have at least one, big, silver lining these days: choice.
Couples in B.C. today have choice – in fact, they have a number of choices – as to how they can work through their divorce-related issues. Among these choices, of course, is mediation, including distance family mediation. Held up against the privacy, informality and cost-effectiveness that this choice offers, the divorce of yesteryear seems even more appalling.
Thank you, Nate, for reminding us how lucky we are.