History of Divorce in America

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It has become a reality in the modern world. Today, approximately half of marriages end into dissolution. However, this is observed in the recent years. Previously, divorce , many religions and groups did not allow dissolution of marriage. Marriage was considered as an unbreakable bond.

Evolution of the concept of divorce

Voltaire, a philosopher from France, has stated that since formalized marriage practice began, the concept of separation bloomed. However, this concept had no recognition according to old social rules and regulations. As times changed, the disagreements between married couples led to the need for a system of legal separation.

Divorce in the 17th century in the United States

After the advent of the colonists in the States, in course of time, the 13 colonies were adjusted to form 50 states. During this era, the fault based separation procedure was approved by law. When state laws were formed, each state listed the grounds of legal separation The purpose was to ensure that an innocent spouse would be actually separated and thereby experience relief. Some of these grounds were as follows:

  • Abusive and cruel treatment
  • Impotence
  • Inebriation
  • Adultery
  • Desertion

Many states preferred to take maximum efforts to save a marriage. Let us assume that both spouses desired stay away from each other. Still it was necessary that the petitioner or plaintiff should present solid reasons in the court to facilitate the spouses decision. Due to this stance, many forged proofs were created to obtain a legal permission from the family court, if there was absence of any solid ground.

History of Divorce in America from 1950 to 1970

It was realized during the mid 1950s that in many cases there were no fault reasons to terminate the marriage. Some of the reasons were as under:

  • Loss of sanity
  • Instances of incompatibility
  • Long term separation

Practically, the above reasons were not adequate to grant a legal split. The spouses seeking it and their attorneys observed fabrication of the case, so that it appealed to the established grounds in each state. It was observed that during this period a majority of individuals were unhappy with their partners from the first marriage and desired to get separated from each other In order to accelerate th proceedings easily, judges as well as lawyers adhered to the fault based divorcement system.

History of Divorce in America after 1970

During the 1970s, the United States introduced no fault divorces. While doing this, the US followed a method that was prevailing in the United Kingdom. In the UK, if a marriage was irreparably damaged, the judge could grant an order for separation of the married couple California was the first state to take an initiative to approve it on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. It was the first state in the US to adopt no fault laws. Later, the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act became prevalent in various degrees throughout the nation.

Some states in America developed an opinion that no fault laws would be harmful to the institution of marriage. This sort of separation would break all important bonds. The parties involved would face major financial, employment and family disruptions. As the grounds were open ended and simple, the lawyers and judges would find it very easy to obtain a legal order from the judge. Therefore, they adopted this law with some modifications.

Recent Historical Aspects of Divorce in America

During the 1980s, the separation rate in the US reached its peak. 50 percent of the marriages failed. The reasons cited for this upheaval are as follows:

  • Increase in the earning potential of women
  • The concept found more acceptance
  • An enhancement in the pursuit of joy, i.e., the possibility to locate a better partner
  • The presence of no fault laws

Traditionally, an ex husband would be obliged to disburse spousal support and child support to the ex wife for a finite duration of time. However, in several states, if the woman is the major breadwinner, a reversal of the above situation is now possible. Also, there have been many alterations in the property division laws from time to time. Initially, the property was divided on equal basis. Nowadays, some state laws allow an equitable distribution of assets depending on the financial conditions of the spouses.

Such is the nature of development of current separation laws in various states. Many states are still undergoing the amendments in the family laws according to the changing trends and requirements. The history of legal separation in America will remain an important topic of discussion for the scholars and lawyers in this field.

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