Divorce has certainly been around for a long time, but not nearly as long as marriage. However, as the institution of divorce has evolved, it’s also become more time consuming, complex, and expensive. If you have ever wondered what U.S. divorce law looked like in the past, this is your guide. Here is a quick look at what divorce used to be like in America.
One of the earliest instances of divorce law being practiced was in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, which created a tribunal to handle such matters in 1629. The process was relatively simple: this group of people was allowed to grant divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion, bigamy, and impotence. Northern colonies modeled this approach, but Southern colonies typically did everything in their power to prevent divorce from happening.
The 20th Century
By the time the 19th century ended, “divorce mill” states had popped up all across the nation. Places like Indiana, Utah, and the Dakotas were all fair game if you wanted to file for divorce. These states became such high-traffic places that in 1887, Congress actually ordered the first set of divorce statistics to be compiled.
The turn of the century brought with it the Inter-Church Conference on Marriage and Divorce in 1903, which was an attempt to use religion to minimize divorce in the country. Anti-divorce sentiments came to a point where “trial marriages,” in which couples could test drive a marriage without legal implications, were considered commonplace. Needless to say that did not last long.
Enter Family Court
The Family Court system was founded in the 1950s in response to a growing number of divorces having to go through the traditional court system. With the changes brought about in Family Court, divorce attorneys and family law attorneys began appearing. In a short time, almost every major city in the nation became involved with this system.
All of the struggles and strange practices of divorces past have brought us to the system of divorce we know today. It might cost a lot more (between $15,000 and $30,000, to be exact), but overall the process is offers far more options to those people who want a divorce. In short, we’ve come a long way since the days of Henry VIII.
It just goes to show how many bumps must be smoothed out before a practice attains a final form. There is no guarantee that divorce will always exist as we currently know it, but knowing how the process got to this point in time is important.