The end of a marriage often brings mixed emotions: disappointment that the dream of happily ever after has ended; relief to be moving on from a relationship that was fraught with tension, anger, and acrimony; and if the couple had children, sadness that time spent with the children will be split in a custody agreement.
But for some members of the newly divorced crowd, when “‘til death do us part” ends before the couple’s actual death, it’s not a time to mourn – it’s a time to celebrate.
Divorce parties are alive and well, judging from the most recent spate of photos depicting divorce cakes collected on The Huffington Post’s divorce page. Many are created with the same elaborate detail that went into choosing the wedding cake, and depict everything from the bride pushing the groom in a freefall off the top of a three-tiered cake, to beheaded husbands, to a husband happily driving off in a sports car, his bride looking dejected as he zooms off, leaving her behind in a pool of shattered dreams and frosting. There are even party planners who focus solely on throwing celebration bashes for the newly single.
But are they really a good idea?
Negative Impact on the Children
It’s true that some couples are better off divorced. For those living with an emotionally or physically abusive spouse, a serial philanderer or one who continually squanders the family finances, the relief felt at the marriage’s demise is understandable. And some couples may want to formally close that chapter of their life as they turn the page to the new one. But depending on how nasty the celebration is (cheering a husband on as he trades in his wife “for a classier model” is, at the very least, incredibly insensitive), it could negatively impact the children.
Most children of divorce – especially the very young – often feel that the divorce was their fault, despite their parents’ repeated assurances that it was not. Recent studies show that children of divorce reported having a less secure relationship with their parents, and grow up to have anxiety in their own romantic relationships.
A child who witnesses their parent openly celebrating the end of their union – especially in some of the nastier renditions, such as a husband burying his wife, or a wife celebrating that she got everything while her husband is relegated to living in a tent – could cause even greater feelings of confusion.
Negative Impact on Custody
Divorce celebrations may also negatively impact the outcome of custody proceedings.
There are a number of factors that go into a judge’s determination of which parent should be awarded primary physical custody of the children. The courts often take into consideration the ability of each parent to support a loving, ongoing relationship with the other parent, and the mental health of each parent. The non-celebratory spouse could use the outward display of celebration, especially those with an undercurrent of anger and injury, as proof that the other parent cannot meet these two criteria, and therefore should not be awarded primary custody.
If you do feel the need to celebrate the end of your divorce and usher in this new chapter of your life, talk to your Massachusetts family law attorney first to discuss whether such a celebration could negatively impact your divorce or child custody proceedings, either now or in the future.