December 11, 2014

Faulty Divorce

There is such a thing as “no fault” divorce in which the parties agree to separate with no other “cause” than their desire no longer to continue in their marriage. By its very nature this is not something that one party can impose on the other. When one spouse says to the other, “I can’t go on living like this,” a number of responses are appropriate. These include:

  • “What have I done?”
  • “Can’t we work this out?”
  • “Are you saying you want a divorce?”
It would, however, be inappropriate and presumptuous to say, “You’ve asked for a divorce; so be it.”

Similarly, when a worker approaches a boss and says, “I can’t go on working under these conditions,” there are appropriate and inappropriate responses. Appropriate responses include:
  • “What conditions? What is / are the problem(s)?”
  • “How can we work this through to our mutual satisfaction?”
  • “Things aren’t going to change; are you planning to resign?”
It would be utterly inappropriate to say, “I accept your resignation.” You can no more “resign” another person than you can force them to divorce you. You may be free to fire them or divorce them, but that puts the action — and the responsibility — on your side.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


June Butler said...

What can I say? It is so.

JCF said...

Roman a tag.

ITA, BTW. I can't imagine any diocesan COM in good conscious sending their candidate to GTS right now. Kyrie eleison.

regnaD kciN said...

While I will agree with the analogy to the GTS situation, I would have to point out one inaccuracy in your post: in most states you very much can "impose" a no-fault divorce on your partner. All one party to the marriage has to do is go to the court claiming that they are no longer able to live in the marriage, and the divorce will be granted automatically, whether the spouse wants it or not. The only considerations, for the judge, will be making sure the property division and assignment of financial obligation for any children is equitable -- not whether or not the spouse wants the marriage to continue.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

But, that's not the only thing that was said, Tobias. An ultimatum was clearly given.

I agree: the reaction was precipitous and rash, and, in fact, odious. But, there was an ultimatum. In writing. And, a lawyer involved. And, a union forming.

Some hands are cleaner than others but no one's hands are completely clean.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Nick (?). I think you misunderstood my short-form note. While an individual can obtain a no fault divorce without the consent of the spouse in many states, what one cannot do is make the other spouse be the one suing for divorce unless they wish to. In the analogy, the spouse isn't asking for a divorce, but for a change in the situation, though divorce might be one possible change: hence the three legitimate outcomes. What I'm trying to address is the notion of putting words into someone else's mouth -- claiming that they are the ones asking for the divorce when that has not been expressed.

And that, Elizabeth, is my answer to your claim. As my NT professor used to say, "Can you show this to me in the text?" Where, and how, does the ultimatum -- only come to apparently after lengthy attempts at some sort of address of the situation -- constitute a "resignation"? This strikes close to home for me because of an incident in my own community, in which leadership acted in haste and took the "easy" way instead of stepping back and cooling off. In the present instance, it seems that the Board did not want to engage in the due process required for termination, and chose the easy way of claiming resignations had been submitted. I'm not claiming the faculty were 100% right in what they did; I think the work action was a bad move, as was withdrawal from the chapel services. But those choices, while not the best in my eyes, are at least open and honest, and do not require any finessing of language to explain. In short, resignation must be unambiguous, voluntary, and clearly intended; otherwise it is an imposition, as in this case.

JCF said...

@ Elizabeth:

"And, a union forming ... no one's hands are completely clean."

How does forming a union constitute ANY degree of uncleanness? [Thought that the Godliness of unions was established by no less than Pope Leo XIII a *century* ago!]

Gary Paul Gilbert said...

Forming a union would be unclean if the institution itself were the Republican Party at Prayer.

The response by the board was inappropriate.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Jules said...

Tobias, your post is right on target. As far as withdrawing from chapel is concerned, it was the only way to have a work stoppage that didn't actually affect classes, which was the expectation of the faculty when they called the stoppage on a Friday when chapel and lunch were the only work obligations that required their presence.
It may be argued that chapel and lunch shouldn't be considered part of their "jobs" but when attendance is taken and absence is chastised, it's a little hard to make that argument.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, JCF and Gary. The right of workers to organize for the redress of greivances is a fundamental right, as I see it, combining the right of assembly and free speech. And if I'm not mistaken, the right to unionize is protected by law, and that it is inappropriate to fire someone on that basis. (Hence the "resignations"?)

Jules, I take your point, but as I noted I'm not sure the work stoppage was a good idea in itself, apart from the chapel issue; which also on its own concerns me as I eschew avoiding worship as a means to make a statement. An alternate worship in another locale might have been a better choice.

But hindsight is 20/20.