By: Jason Weis, Esq.
Two incredibly popular podcasters recently weighed in on marriage and divorce with some thoughtful advice.
First, Dennis Prager, provocative American talk show host and conservative commentator, recently published a “Fireside Chat” proposing the most important question couples should ask themselves prior to marriage is: “Do you actually enjoy each other’s company?” He postulates that some unhappy marriages arise where couples love each other, but do not actually like each other. “Ask yourself: do you miss the person when you are not together?” Whatever your political leanings or thoughts about Mr. Prager, there very well could be something to the old adage “marry your best friend.” Love, while beautiful, can sometimes create feelings of obligation or even burden that, in turn, could create negative momentum over time. Of course, not liking a person (or not loving a person) is not grounds for divorce in Virginia.
In Virginia, the fault-based grounds of divorce remain:
- Adultery, sodomy, buggery;
- Felony conviction resulting in confinement for more than one year;
- Cruelty; and
- Willful desertion.
Second, Jordan B. Peterson , a controversial author, intellectual, and clinical psychologist, recently interviewed Warren Farrell, a best-selling author and notable advocate for both men’s and women’s rights. In their near-three hour discussion, titled “The Four Dos and Don’ts of Divorce”, Jordan offers his view that marriage is mostly about children, not adults: if adults exercise their free choice to have children, marriage effectively binds those adults together to raise their children. Warren then posits four “must do’s” if parents want children of divorce to do as well as children of “intact families.”
He believes divorcing parents should:
(1) Strive to ensure the children have an equal amount of time with each of them;
(2) Live within about 20 minutes’ drive time of one another;
(3) Not expose the children to any bad-mouthing or negative body language directed toward the other parent; and
(4) Effectively manage the administrative aspects of child-rearing, possibly with the assistance of a third-party.
Each item above roughly aligns with Virginia’s Best Interest of the Child Statute in one way or another, but, like most issues in divorce, there are always important exceptions. Child custody and child visitation are delicate and often highly contested matters. Explorations of Virginia Child Custody and Virginia Child Visitation can be found elsewhere in our blog. After adultery, perhaps no other family law issue evokes a “burn the boats – do whatever it takes at whatever the cost” response from clients than contested parenting time and contested parenting behaviors. Divorce can be a positive or negative for your children and selecting the right family law attorney may help each parent maintain a healthy relationship with his/her children following divorce.