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Divorce: It's a Growing Problem Here

Divorce: It's a Growing Problem Here image
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(Editor's note: The number of divorces granted in Washtenaw County is increasing, while the number of marriage license applications is decreasing. The percentage of men iiling for divorce is on the rise, too. The following is the prelude to a thrse-part fiprjps nf personal interviews with people who have been involved in a divorce. ) By Mary J. Staples (News Staff Reporter) "There is nothing wrong with marriage. The major cause for divorce is people," says Ann Arbor's Hugh Gaston, a certified marriage counselor. The marriage counselor's words are probably of little comfort to the 976 couples who were divorced in 1971 in Washtenaw County. With the divorce rate continuing to increase, the emotional shock or release of divorce touches the lives of millions of Americans each year. And while the divorce rate climbs, fewer persons are choosing to enter into the once-considered permanent bond of matrimony. According to the County Clerk's office, 2,576 marriage licenses I were issued in 1971 in Washtenaw I ty, compared to 2,602 in 1970, and 2,638 I in 1969. H For a statistical view of the divorce I situation, lio more divorces were 1 ed in Washtenaw in 1971 than in 1970. 1 County records show 866 divorces were I granted in 1970. Another statistic, which indicates more I persons are considering divorce, is the I number of petitions for divorce filed. In I 1971, 1,421 petitions were filed. Comparing the number of petitions I ed in 1971 and '72 during the months of I January and February, this year could I set a record. In 1971 some 207 petitions I i were filed during the first two months. I This compares with 320 petitions I I year. Not only is the number of divorces filI I ed for and granted increasing, but the I I percentage of men filing for the divorce I I is increasing - one expected result of I ■ no-fault divorce which b'egan Jan. 1. ■ During January and February of 1971 I ■ some 22 per cent of the divorce petitions ■ were filed by men. For the first two I ■ months of 1972, men filed 33 per cent of I ■ the petitions. Although reasons may vary, most of I the divorces granted prior to Jan. 1 were on the basis of mental cruelty. A growing number include the no-fault catch-all phrase: "... that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable Ükelihood that the marriage can be preserved." Circuit Court Judge Ross Campbell says in previous years, the professional man, such as a professor, doctor or executive, would file the suit for a "practical reason." If it appeared the man was at fault, the divorce could harm his career and subsequently the woman's income - alimony. Judge Campbell says it looks better for the professional man to have been the one to get the divorce rather than the one who was divorced. Campbell estimates that about five per cent of divorces are contested. "This is rare," and occurs when they can't settle on terms," Campbell explains. Since no-fault divorce, the courtroom confrontation is different, according to the judge. "There has to have been some tangible acts to substantiate the case - But they don't have to teil me all the I ry details. We're not here to flagellate I anyone," Campbell explains. The judge says often those persons I who are getting a divorce are immature at the time of marriage. "Many have grown apart. The individuals become so inbred that they are more concerned about their own happiness rather than the happiness of the other person." Gaston, who previously served as the first marriage counselor for the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, says people contemplating divorce are dealing with personal likes and values and these things change as men and women grow I older. Gaston says, "Persons may be I sioned with marriage and feel another I marriage will be better - often it isn't." Gaston asserts that one reason men I and women decide to get divorced is I that they don't enjoy the sensible ■ ures of living. "Marriage offers chances I for as rich and wonderful life as I ble. This is possible when the couple I gets so they can trust or depend upon I each other." mB