The only constant in life, as they say, is continual change.
But have you noticed?
These days, change seems to occur at such an amazing clip, it’s difficult to keep up.
Just think if only two years ago someone had said …
• You’d meet Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner in the women’s restroom.
• A brash, low-filter, reality show host would be down to one step away from the White House.
• “Transgender” would be an everyday word.
• Illinois still wouldn’t have a state budget.
• A man might be the "First Gentleman."
• And the Cubs … oh my … the Cubs would have the BEST record in baseball.
The times, they are a changin', as Dylan still croons.
Think, too, about same-sex marriage.
It was only two summers ago that it became legal in Illinois and "official" same-sex nuptial ceremonies began here.
And yet, perhaps because of all the other changes since, it seems so much longer ago — by now, almost old hat.
And it is, too.
In fact, naturally evolving now, largely out of the headlines, is same-sex divorce.
Not a lot here, yet.
As one divorce lawyer put it the other day, “Even unhappy couples make it a year or two.”
But developing, too — in places like McLean County Circuit Court — are cases that involve all-new topics, issues and circumstances.
One recent marriage dissolution, as an example, was between two females.
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In that case, a child was born to one of the women, with the help of a man, the sperm donor. Thus the man was the “birth father” and obviously was involved — even if he was not involved. Meanwhile, the other woman in the divorce was seeking custody of the child, even if — in other times — she would have been the third party.
Another case involved a divorcing pair who had an adopted child now involved in a second adoption — after one of the divorcing pair decided to marry a man in her second marriage.
In another case was introduced an impregnation "method" perhaps not heard in a courtroom before — “sperm delivered in a red Solo cup.”
It was left, with Saran Wrap sealing the top, in a rural McLean County mailbox, according to those familiar with the case.
No highfalutin fertility clinic or doctor’s office visit there.
And it worked.
At yet another divorce-related hearing, complications and a bit of confusion arose when a petitioner in a case had changed sexes since the case originally began and the pronoun “he” had to become “she” in testimony, documents and court-reporter transcription.
In fact, when it was asked by a lawyer if the "biological mother" was in the courtroom, a woman who was reportedly described by observers as "now a large African American man" responded, 'Yes, I'm here.' "
No question — amid all of today’s change, it's just not an “OK-who-gets-the-silverware” question in divorce court anymore.
And yet, while some suggest a need for new case law in a new age because there obviously are some new topics in divorce, the same-sex marriage that naturally has spawned same-sex divorce has, in turn, not changed a whole lot in splits-ville court.
“Really,” says Helen Ogar, a Bloomington divorce lawyer, whether it’s hetero versus hetero or gay versus gay or any combination thereof, "it’s all pretty similar.”
Retired McLean County Judge Charles Reynard, who stepped down late last year after years of overseeing family court, including the county’s first same-sex cases, goes farther.
“The same issues still emerge in all (divorce) cases,” says Reynard. “And that is that all too frequently, the best interests of the children are subordinated by the parents’ resentments of each other. It’s difficult to get the parents to focus on who is the most important person in a court case — and that is the one who is not usually there (i.e. the children).”
And so it goes as well — the more things change, the more they stay the same.
As comedian Chris Rock joked a few years ago, after same-sex marriages became more legal: “Isn’t it only fair that gays now can be just as miserable in divorce court as the rest of us have been for centuries?”
As for the kids, though, as Reynard points out, it’s never been a joke.
And it still isn’t, even with all this change.
Changing times, changing scenarios, changing circumstances, changing issues ... and yet more of the same.
The times aren't a changin', too.