While it may sound a bit strange at first, divorce ceremonies are beginning to gain recognition as a way to help children cope with their parents‘ divorce and a way to reaffirm parents‘ commitment to raising their children as a parental unit.
A recent MSNBC article discusses this new trend.
First off, divorce ceremonies are not the same as divorce parties. While a divorce party usually entails a festive atmosphere of food, music, and drinking; a divorce ceremony is a more solemn and serious occasion. Divorce ceremonies focus on the future behavior of the former spouses toward each other and their children.
Many people feel that, like any major transition in life, a ceremony is an appropriate way to signal the end of a marriage. In this case, the ceremony is more like a funeral or memorial than a wedding in that it marks the end of a relationship and is meant to provide closure to all of those involved. Divorce ceremonies are intended to help all parties involved deal with the hurt, anger, and blame that usually arises from a divorce. These ceremonies are meant to foster peace, forgiveness, and closure for all members of the family.
Often divorce ceremonies are aimed at the children and helping them get through the emotional trauma of a divorce. However, they may also seek to solidify parents‘ understanding and commitment to their roles as co-parents after the end of their marriage. The centerpiece of the ceremony entails the former couple reciting vows in front of their children, family, and friends in a way that is similar to a wedding. The vows are promises the parents make to each other and their children about how they will handle parenting issues in the future.
Divorce ceremonies vary considerably. In some ceremonies, both parents and former spouses take part. In other situations, perhaps due to acrimony between the former spouses, only one parent takes part in the ceremony. Divorce ceremonies are usually solemn occasions, with a minister, rabbi, official, friend, or family member conducting the ceremony. Former couples or individuals pronounce their vows publicly and in some cases, children are invited to share a few words as well.
Although divorce ceremonies may seem a like a novel idea, they have been part of the Jewish religion for centuries albeit in a different format. As more and more couples opt for divorce ceremonies, churches and other places of worship have begun to celebrate them. Some churches have divorce prayers and liturgies, including the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.
It remains to be seen whether the recent increase in divorce ceremonies will continue. In turn, the question of whether or not a divorce ceremony has any beneficial effects for those involved depends heavily on the parties involved. While it may not be the right fit for certain people, divorce ceremonies can be a way to open lines of communication and establish interaction patterns that could be helpful in the future. This might be particularly helpful for future child custody issues.