Tue | Feb 25, 2020

Kelly's World | Divorce etiquette

Published:Monday | March 25, 2019 | 12:15 AM

“Take this marriage thing seriously – it has to last all the way to the divorce.”

– comedian Roseanne Barr


I was watching an old rerun of one of my favourite comedies once when one character asked about a funeral.

His wife corrected him and said that the event he was referring to was a wedding.

The husband retorted: “Well, it’s the death of two single people.”

There are many jokes about weddings and marriage, from the question of why buy the cow if you’re getting the milk for free to the observation that most grooms wear black because they are going to an execution of sorts.

I don’t have the latest figures on Jamaica’s divorce rate (I’m not writing a thesis here), but from stories I’ve seen over the last few years, the number of marriages is declining, while the number of divorces is heading in the opposite direction.

It feels like divorces are now the norm, and it’s quite disconcerting, especially for those of us who nuh deh no weh near the chapel.


But I’ve sometimes wondered how divorces work. I know that there is a ton of paperwork ...

But is there a certain etiquette to divorces?

So, like if and when you go before the judge, are there some things that you’re not supposed to say? How tactful should you be? Should you use tact at all?

Imagine the scenario.

Judge: “Mr So-and-So, why do you wish to cease being married to Mrs So-and-So?”

Mr So-and-So: “Well, your honour, she’s old, she’s tired, and I don’t want her.”

Someone I hadn’t seen in a long time recently told me that those exact words were said to a real judge during a divorce hearing in Jamaica.

I didn’t quite get what the judge’s reaction was, but I think it’s pretty clear that there was no ambiguity as to whether that marriage could be saved.

But what about etiquette as it relates to other members of the families on both sides?

For instance, if your brother is going through a divorce, do you ask the soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law for any kind of favour?

If you run into her in the pharmacy or supermarket and you’re actually a few dollars short to purchase an item, do you ask for a loan?

Or does her impending separation from your brother negate that?

What about keeping in touch with your former son-in-law? Let’s say you and him used to watch football games and hang out.

Let’s also imagine that your daughter cheated on him and then decided she wanted a divorce.

What is a dad to do? Technically, he can’t blame the guy ’cause it was his daughter who pushed all the wrong buttons.

But kicking back and having a few cold ones with your daughter’s ex might not gain you any points with the family.

That’s why I tell people that life is a gamble. So if you’re going to take the matrimonial plunge, think it through properly before yuh jump.

Because you either have a nice landing, or yuh drop, boof!

- Link me at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com.