American writer Mark Twain once famously remarked, “No one is willing to acknowledge a fault in himself when a more agreeable motive can be found for the estrangement of his acquaintances”.
Yet Twain's head would surely be spinning if he could have witnessed this maxim play out in the strange context of the English divorce courts.
As The New York Times reports, due to a lack of no-fault divorce laws in England, spouses eager to part ways must come up with all sorts of inventive faults to place blame upon the other party.
While the no-fault law was established in Australia, no similar law exists in England and it has resulted in some rather unusual mud-slinging in the divorce courts of Dear Old Blighty.
There was the woman who filed for divorce after her husband demanded she dress in Klingon garb and speak in native Klingon tongue - bless him - and there was the man who insisted his wife “maliciously” and “repeatedly” served him his most detested dish, tuna casserole.
There was another woman who said that her husband’s only communication with her over a period of 15 years was by Post-it note, while it’s hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for the man who claimed his wife “would without justification flirt with any builder or tradesman, inappropriately touching them and declaring that she could not stop herself”.
There have been numerous complaints about body odour, as well as the tale of a husband who repeatedly took charge of the remote television controller, “endlessly flicking through channels and failing to stop at any channel requested by the petitioner”.
Under current English law, divorces can be granted the heading of “unreasonable behaviour”, in which one party has to accuse the other of acting so unreasonably that it is impossible for them to live together.
“It’s insane,” English divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt told the The New York Times. “These things should not have any part in the procedure.”
Folklaw would usually agree, however in this instance the hilarity of the anecdotes of domestic bliss must take priority.
To end on a suitably English turn of phrase, there really is “nowt so queer as folk”.