Envisioning the Good Divorce

American attitudes toward marriage have undergone a seismic shift in recent decades. Gay marriage has become mainstream, nearly half of American households have female breadwinners, and gendered expectations of domestic roles have changed as well. Yet our attitudes toward divorce remain surprisingly unchanged.

Even as marriage rates overall have fallen and long-term unmarried partnerships are increasingly accepted, ending a marriage is still widely regarded as a failure and is stigmatized accordingly.

But divorce does not look as it once did. Changes in laws, customs, technology, psychology and child development research, and the evolving roles of men and women in the last decades have greatly improved uncoupling for many. And great knowledge of what helps both the adults and children involved in divorce have led to positively restructured families on the other side of marriage.

Is there such a thing as a good divorce? And have our courts, public policies, or even pop culture caught up? Is a good divorce available to all, or just the highly educated or well-to-do? We talk with Wendy Paris, author of Splitopia: Dispatches from Today's Good Divorce and How to Part Well, about new models of divorce and their impact on the families involved and in culture at large.

Contributors:

Katherine Zoepf was a fellow in the Better Life Lab at New America. She is the author of Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World

Wendy Paris