Honeymoons, rings and birds: a little light relief

family law

Marriage is the chief cause of divorce.

– Groucho Marx

As the silly season is in full swing I thought it might be time for a little light relief. After all, who wants to spend their holiday on the beach reading serious family law stuff? There may not seem to be much humour surrounding family law issues, but I’ve come across a fair number of amusing stories over the years that I have been writing about the subject, and I thought I would share a few of them here. You may have come across some of these stories before, but hopefully there is something new here for everyone.

We start with a tale from 2008, in which a classic divorce joke became a reality. It took place in Cambodia when “a couple decided to circumvent the country’s notoriously corrupt and expensive court system in their divorce case by dividing their house in half, literally”. The husband, Meuon Rima, sawed the house down the middle and “was last seen driving away from the village in south-eastern Prey Veng province with his half of the home”. I know some people over here consider our court system to be corrupt and expensive, but I don’t recommend that they try this.

Moving on, in 2011 I came across another comedy cliché: the one about the mother-in-law. Now, this usually refers to the wife’s mother, but in this case it concerned the husband’s mother. The story reported that when an Italian couple set off for their honeymoon in France the wife was shocked to find that the husband had brought his mother along with him. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. The three spent the honeymoon together, but as soon as they returned from France the wife filed for divorce, citing an “excessive emotional attachment” between her future ex-husband and his mother.

Reminds me of the old Les Dawson joke:

“I can always tell when the mother-in-law’s coming to stay; the mice throw themselves on the traps.”

Still on the subject of honeymoons, there is the small problem of how to pay for them. Back in 2010 one American couple found a simple solution: rob a bank. The couple entered the bank in New Jersey, the wife carrying a concealed knife and the husband claiming to have a bomb. They fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and began driving to Las Vegas, where they planned to celebrate their nuptials. Unfortunately for them it was not to be. They were captured en route in Oklahoma five days later, and the honeymoon had to be put on hold while they both served seven year prison terms.

The issue of what to do with the old wedding ring has perplexed many divorcees. Selling it or getting it melted down are obvious solutions. Not so obvious was an idea I came across back in 2007, on an American website: the wedding ring coffin.

“Give a dead marriage its proper, final resting place. The Wedding Ring Coffin is the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one for bringing closure after a divorce.”

So says Wedding Ring Coffin, a site that sells small wooden coffins complete with brass plaques, for you to put your wedding ring in after divorce. Needless to say, I subsequently recommended them to all of my divorcing clients.

Another answer to the problem came from Japan, where some splitting couples invite guests to a ‘separation ceremony’, which takes place at a tatty location, purposely chosen as a symbol of the disintegration of the couple’s marriage. In the course of the ceremony the couple jointly grip a mallet, which they use to smash the wedding ring. The damaged ring is then placed in the mouth of a frog-shaped receptacle, the frog being viewed as a harbinger of new beginnings. Interviewed by The Guardian, a wife who had just taken part in the ceremony said: “Doing this in front of friends who attended our wedding might seem cruel, but at least it proves that we were willing to co-operate right to the end.” Quite.

And finally, an old story that took place just across the sea in China. After she returned from a month-long visit to her parents a woman in the southwestern city of Chongqing became suspicious that her husband was having an affair when their pet mynah bird began repeating words apparently picked up from her husband’s secret telephone calls to his lover. As CNN reported: “She said words such as ‘divorce’, ‘I love you’, and ‘be patient’ had become an increasingly frequent feature of the feathered telltale’s idle twitterings.” She decided to issue divorce proceedings herself and took the bird to her lawyers, but sadly was advised that the bird’s testimony was unlikely to sway the court.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of American humourist Lewis Grizzard:

“I don’t think I’ll get married again. I’ll just find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.”

Photo of a mynah bird by polen2003 via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

John Bolch

John Bolch often wonders how he ever became a family lawyer. He no longer practises, but has instead earned a reputation as one of the UK's best-known family law bloggers.

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Cameron Paterson - August 23, 2017 at 11:17am

“I’m a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house.”
– Zsa Zsa Gabor (married nine times)

Yvie - August 23, 2017 at 11:27am

Many a true word is said in jest!

Andrew - August 23, 2017 at 1:41pm

Groucho was right – abolish marriage and the divorce lawyers will soon be out of business. Not as soon as the caterers!

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