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Brief History of Divorce as a Process: Present Divorce Laws and Religious Imperatives Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 26th, 2021

Introduction

Divorce is the legally authorized and ultimate termination of a matrimonial bond. There is a range of motives why couples choose the Option of divorce. Psychotherapists mention dilemmas with pairs getting separated, detested and unappreciated emotions, the difference in aims, difficulties with money, and sometimes sexual relationships as the foremost stimulants for divorce. (SIRS Knowledge 1)

Bases of Divorce

Present divorce laws have been formulated mainly from religious imperatives. Such as, in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, divorce rules are based on Christian belief. In these countries, divorce was usually allowed to the innocent spouse only, till around 1900. This was also only on the basis of any matrimonial offense committed by any of the two, such as desertion, adultery, and cruelty. Later in the 1960s people began to adopt a more copious approach to divorce that what so ever may the reason be, there is no point to continue an unsuccessful and marriage.

Divorce Rules in the United States

All states of the United States follow different rules for divorce which are applicable only to the legal residents of the states. States laws present the grounds for divorce i.e., the causes for which the divorce is asked for. Thus on the basis of these reasons divorce is classified into:

  • Fault divorce includes reasons like drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, desertion, mental or corporal torture, imprisonment for criminal acts, and failure to afford financial support.
  • No-Fault Divorce is not based on the above reasons but is granted only when spouses prove their relationship as unsuccessful. This type of divorce was first adopted by California in 1969, where divorce is granted on two main grounds:
    1. Incompatible differences
    2. Untreatable lunacy of a partner. (Nock 1of 1)

A divorce lawyer, who also writes “The Divorce Lawyers’ Guide to Staying Married”, recently gave an interview to AOL Book Maven Bethanne Patrick. In this interview, she has presented nine symptoms of divorce on the basis of her own experience. These are:

  1. Sexual relationship
  2. Unrealistic expectation
  3. Financial matters
  4. Communication gap
  5. Over control of one spouse
  6. Physical addictions and mental challenges
  7. Remarriage
  8. Differences in goals, hobbies, and interest
  9. Lack of commitment. (Jaffe 1-2)

As Phillips comments (ix) divorce has become the general associate of matrimony at the core of the western marriage structure, for divorce, as well has never been so prevalent in the western part of the world as it has become in the current t era “. As Phillips suggests, scholars must find out the historic extraction of divorce to understand the ever-increasing frequency of divorce in the USA as compared to the past.

A Brief Historical Backdrop of Divorce

Opposing the conservative perception, the occurrence of divorce in current American society is not totally unparalleled. Anthropologists state rates of parting and remarriage amongst several hunting and gathering civilizations, and in a number of horticultural groupings also, they are as high as in contemporary developed societies.

Divorce has not always been a strenuous process. In the Shoshone Indians’ culture, a wife who required a divorce would merely put her husband’s belongings out of the house. In the Cewa civilization of East Africa, the man obtains his ax, hoe, and sleeping rug when he departs his wife’s town and the process of divorce is accomplished. In conventional Japanese society, a specific letter of three and a half lines was all a husband required to divorce his wife. Wives, conversely, had to submit two years long service at an exclusive holy place before getting the divorce. (Coontz 1)

The first on paper divorce set of laws were instituted in the ancient Babylonian, System of Hammurabi. Numerous early cultures allowed only men to obtain a divorce. The early Christians educated that marriage was a perpetual relation until death, and they eradicated divorce in the regions they controlled. They also organized exclusive church courts to manage the marriage affairs.. (Nock 1of 1).

The matrimony and separation institutions of the West are derivative of primeval Hebrew and Roman resources. In Jewish law, a woman didn’t hold the privilege to divorce her spouse, but she was entitled to remarry if her husband divorced her. This is evidenced in Deuteronomy that when a man marries a woman if then she obtains no support in his consideration because he has felt some inappropriateness in her; he may give her a written statement of divorce and send her away from his life. But she has the right of remarrying reserved.

Marriage was not a legal procedure in the Roman Empire. A man and woman wishing to be life partners could start living jointly in an undeviating family unit. The only permissible conditions were that the partners must be adults and should live together with the consent of their families. Both the husband and the wife owned their individual properties. Any of them could bring an end to the marriage, the only legal formality was apparent intend to divorce like a written statement or an official letter. (Bohannan 1)

A marriage could be canceled, nevertheless, if any of the precise conditions of canon law for a legitimate marriage had been dishonored and both the spouses A distinct convention existed in England. When Henry VIII broke away from Catholicism the primitive Christian rules of Rome initiated to put marriage and divorce under the power of the law. King Justinian, the founder of the Roman Empire, is said to be the “Law-Giver” in the 6th century. He made an effort to put divorce under the Church but could not impose it on account of the public demonstration. According to the Christian church matrimonial bond was unbreakable.

The Canon law was reinforced in Christian countries of Europe, related to marriage and divorce, during the middle ages. Under this law, divorce was not permissible in usual cases. Only in some evident cases of extreme adultery and cruelty, separation, “Divorce from bed and board” was allowed. Both the spouses could remarry then.

In the 16th century, when the Protestants including Martin Luther broke away from the Roman church, they assumed a distinctive prospect of marriage. They called it “an outer sophisticated thing, dependent on worldly influence, just like clothing and foodstuff, house and field.”The Protestants, consequently, allowed divorce on a certain basis, i.e., adultery, cruelty, or desertion.

Church, legislative divorce was established. It could be availed through the parliament instead of any court, requiring a separate act of the House of Lords. Thus, the process of divorce became expensive and inaccessible even for the middle class. This system was sustained till the establishment of the “Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes” by the parliament in 1857. (Bohannan 1).

Divorce in the United States:

Since 1960 there is a dramatic upward trend in US divorce rates.

Connoisseurs have recommended several motives for this raise:

  1. Divorce is more generally tolerable than it was in the past.
  2. Numerous people anticipate more of marriage than previous generations so they may be easily disappointed.
  3. Better career opportunities are open to women. Thus, women are less financially reliant on their husbands.
  4. Amendments in divorce laws have made the divorce process convenient and accessible.

The divorce rate is much elevated in the USA than in any other country. Generally, urban areas have a higher divorce rate than the countryside. The rate also differs among different states and areas, partially because of the difference in divorce laws and court practices. But the rates most likely vary because of the distinct social, economic, ethnic, and religious structure of the population. Usually, people with less professional jobs and with low earnings have a higher divorce rate than people on professional jobs and better earnings. But, the farmers who also belong to the nonprofessional group have the lowest divorce rate. The majority of researches show that dark pairs and pairs comprising of a black and a white have higher divorce rates than white couples.

Among the three main religious classifications in the United States, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews. Roman Catholics hold the lowest divorce rate and Protestants the highest. The Catholic Church sticks to the belief that legitimate marriages cannot be adjourned. Its members are allowed to obtain a civil divorce to resolve matters like child custody or finances. But remarriage is not allowed even after such a divorce; whereas, Judaism and most Protestant groups allow divorce. Various surveys reveal that Christian-Jewish couples and Catholic-Protestant couples possess a higher divorce rate than couples of the same religious conviction. (Nock 2)

Works Cited

Bohannan, Paul.”Divorce“. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 2008. Grolier Online. 2008. Web.

Coontz, Stephanie. “The Origins of Modern Divorce”. 2007. Web.

Jaffe, Wendy. “The Nine Symptoms of Divorce”. 2008. Web.

Nock, Steven L. “Divorce”. 2008. World Book Online Center. Web.

Phillips, Roderick. “Untying the Knot: A Brief History of Divorce”. Cambridge University Press. 1991.

Sirs Knowledge. “Divorce”. 2008. Web.

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