Hollywood promotes parental reconciliation fantasies

Date: Aug 12, 2011

A slew of movies have been released in recent years that seem to celebrate the ideal of ex-partners reconciling their differences and reuniting as a couple.

Starting with The Parent Trap in 1961, this Hollywood trend would have cinema goers believe that divorced families are always capable of reconciling their differences and living happily ever after.

This trend may be a reflection of the rising rate of single-parent families in both the US and Australia.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics predict that as many as 30 per cent of couples married in 2000 - 02 will have their relationship end in divorce - and increasing numbers of children being involved in the separation.

It could be inferred that these changes in the demographic makeup of the population make these feel-good movies more appealing to a wider audience - and thus more profitable to film studios.

Christy Buchannan, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, has said that children of divorces frequently indulge in what she calls "fantasies of reconciliation".

She has also warned of the dangers inherent in perpetuating a highly idealised scenario to impressionable young minds, saying that it has the potential to make things "difficult for families".

In Australia, the measure used to judge the grounds for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, as evidenced by a couples separation for a period of 12 months.

Former partners can be considered to be living separately, even if they continue to live together.

An experienced family lawyer will be able to assist in preparing the necessary evidence that can help determine if a couple is considered to be separated by law.

Once a couple prove that they have lived apart for the required 12 months, they can apply to the Federal Magistrates Court for adivorce.

Both parties can approach the Court together, in which case they become joint applicants and no paperwork needs to be served.

If one partner makes an application to the Court alone, they will then need to serve their spouse with divorce papers.

The service procedure may not be done in person - an applicant needs to either make use of registered mail, have a trusted individual serve the papers directly to the ex-partner, or engage a commercial agent to personally serve their spouse.

A trusted firm of divorce lawyers will be able to provide in-depth experience in determining the types of documents required to successfully apply for a divorce.