Divorce Japanese style – will it catch on?

It’s a far cry from the British way of doing things but as Japan’s divorce rates soar, due partly to the bleak economic climate, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of unhappy couples who choose to end their marriages with as much care and ritual as they began them – with a divorce ceremony.

A third of Japanese marriages now end in divorce – the country saw more than 253,000 divorces in 2009, almost four times the number 50 years ago. A Japanese divorce ceremony can include such bizarre rituals as smashing the once treasured wedding ring with a hammer, drinking toasts to never seeing each other again and even symbolic rides in separate rickshaws to reflect the start of a new journey and marking the definitive end of a marriage.

Whilst it is quite understandable that a simple ceremony could bring closure to both parties by providing a dignified and civilised end to what can be a distressing process, it’s quite hard to imagine those of us with the regulation British stiff  upper lip going in for Japanese-style symbolism and ceremony. Yes, it’s a stressful time for all concerned, but surely a better solution would be to look at how couples can approach the process of divorce more positively.

Jones Myers was one of the first law firms to offer collaborative law, a less stressful and far less adversarial process which ensures that financial and children’s issues will not end up in court. Couples and their lawyers work things out face to face with the aim of resolving the dispute, reaching the best and most amicable conclusion without resorting to tense and potentially lengthy court proceedings. This “meeting of minds” with the common aim of forming agreement is in itself almost a ceremony of closure.

We’ll be telling you more about collaborative law in future blog posts. Meantime, let’s leave the extravagant divorce parties to celebrities such as Katie Price, and ceremonial public destruction of wedding rings to the Japanese.

Anyone who has been through a divorce will empathise with the need to achieve closure and to move on to a new chapter of their lives. Part of what we aim to achieve for all our clients is that essential, life-giving ability to accept change and move on. As well as guiding clients through the legal processes of divorce and separation, we’re also on hand to listen and advise on that whole emotional journey – ceremony or no ceremony.

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