In 1995, the people of Ireland approved a referendum by a vote of 51% to 49% to eliminate the constitutional prohibition to divorce. Prior to the law being signed into law in 1996, many couples who no longer wanted to live as married to one another lead separate lives in what was referred to euphemistically as an Irish Divorce. Although legally married, the two people would often set up households with new mates and even start a second family. The uncoupling was complete in every way, expect in the eyes of the law.
Although divorce was more difficult to obtain years ago because the courts considered a dissolution of a marriage as “against the public interest”, divorce has never been legally prohibited in any state. Since the use of the “Irish Divorce” has never been forced on any miserable US couple like it was in prior-1996 Ireland, such strategy is sometimes freely exercised here.
Why would two people who no longer want to wake up with one another, decide to stay married in the legal sense? Well, there are some logical reasons. One has to do with the religious values against divorce. The Roman Catholic Church’s prohibition of divorce without an annulment can factor in some people’s decision to stay wed. Other cultures and religions adhere to a similar moral code.
Health benefits is another factor in staying married. People often ask me if they get divorced will they still be able to have access to their spouse’s health benefits package. The answer is no. insurance companies will only allow benefits to a legal sp0use, not an ex-spouse. With the escalating costs of health benefits, being on your husband or wife’s insurance policy is a big reason to stay out of divorce court.
Divorce is too often an expensive and messy affair. The costs of hiring lawyers, splitting up assets, selling a family home might be too much to bear for some couples. If there is no intention of remarrying by either spouse, then staying married to one another might make the most financial and emotional sense.
No matter one’s heritage or marital status, everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. So wear some green, eat corned beef and celebrate this special time of year!