Amidst the emotional upheaval of a divorce settlement and with ink on letters from a divorce solicitor barely dry, it may be difficult to think that relationship breakdown could ever be a cause for celebration but, in more and more instances, people worldwide are using symbolism and ceremony akin to that used for a wedding or birthday to mark the occasion of a decree absolute being granted.
Bakers are reportedly being asked to make divorce cakes and tabloid newspapers have reported on celebrities holding divorce parties – a very well known department store even announced that it would be holding “divorce gift lists” at its shops so that friends and relatives could help kit-out newly-single spouses who were having to set up home…again.
The Japanese divorce ceremony – a symbolic celebration of relationship breakdown
In May 2011, in an exploration of differing cultural attitudes to divorce, the Telegraph reported on a Japanese couple who had hired a “divorce planner” to help them end their six-year marriage with a symbolic ceremony.
The “public separation ceremony” the article described was attended by three guests, who had also been present at the wedding ceremony, and involved the couple riding in “his ‘n’ hers rickshaws” through Tokyo before arriving at the destination chosen for their symbolic marriage-end. The guests followed on foot in silence.
The location was described as “tatty” by the reporter and comprised little more than a covered parking space in a rundown area. However, the divorce planner said that it was chosen for its symbolic representation of the disintegration of the couple’s marriage.
After a short explanation by one of the spouses as to why their marriage had ended in divorce and a further short speech from one of the attendees the couple performed the final ritualistic act of smashing a ring. Jointly grasping a ceremonial mallet, the couple smashed the symbol of their union (a cheap version of their wedding band). It appears to have been a slightly awkward action.
The couple paid 55,000 yen (£410) for the half-day “divorce tour”. More elaborate ceremonies, attended by dozens of guests, can be held in more salubrious surroundings such as hotel function rooms and couples can have specially made flowers and arrange for slide shows to be played depicting happier times.
Since performing his first ceremony in April 2009, the divorce planner told the Telegraph that he had received 1,000 enquiries for his services – carrying out more than 60 actual divorce events. Fortunately for him, he expected business to stay brisk as Japan’s divorce rate is increasing. According to the country’s health and welfare ministry 253,353 couples got divorced in 2009 – representing four times the number of relationship breakdowns recorded 50 years previously.
Divorce in England and Wales
For many people in England and Wales, relationship breakdown is not a cause for celebration, but will, in fact, be a time where a great deal of help and advice is needed to make sure any divorce settlement is brought to the most positive outcome.
Healys’ divorce solicitors in Brighton and London can help by listening sensitively to your circumstances and offering expert legal advice to help you towards the conclusion of your split.
From petition to decree absolute, Healys can offer legal support whenever you need it and, as we are a full service legal firm, we have the benefit of a full range of legal services should any complex issues surrounding property, business or overseas issues arise.
To speak to a divorce solicitor call our London office on 020 7822 4000 or email London@healys.com
In our Brighton office you can speak directly to Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org