Prevalence and Implications of Divorce in Early America

Prevalence and Implications of Divorce in Early America

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Prevalence and Implications of Divorce in Early America

The reported rate of divorce statistics throughout history in America, are often unreliable. In fact, divorce statistics show an indication that spouses were often able to escape any court orders that resulted from divorce, by simply moving to a new location where no one knew of their spouse's attempt at divorce. In addition, divorce statistics for early America are often unreliable due in part, to an inability to keep accurate records on the subject because of many intervening factors. 

 

Many couples separated and even remarried in the absence of a legal divorce. Yet, it has been reported that divorce rates in early America showed that less than 5% of all marriages ended before the death of one of the spouses in question. The rate of divorce in America has held steady at about 50% since the early 1980's, in accordance with an ease in divorce restrictions, the rate of divorce has continued to increase.

 

Throughout history, the ability to obtain a legal divorce depended largely on whether marriage was viewed as a civil union, or as a religious sacrament. To this day, organized religions generally look poorly upon couples that divorce, while other members of society view it as a basic right. However, divorce is currently much more commonplace than it had been in the past. It is also much more widely accepted by society and even by some religions. In early American history, divorce statistics are at times difficult to decipher. 

 

Yet, it is obvious that the rate of divorces that were legally obtained was relatively low. In the late eighteen hundreds, the divorce rate seems to have been about 5 percent, as compared to the current rate of about 50 percent. In fact, many sociologists blame the large change in divorce statistics on the acceptance of no fault divorce. In early American history, spouses had to prove that there was a blatant and severe violation of the marriage contract in order to be granted a divorce. 

 

Even then, only the innocent spouse was likely to be freed from the marriage contract. In addition, the guilty spouse was frequently found to have fled to avoid having any further responsibility to the innocent spouse. It was very difficult to keep track of people and their movements, and many divorced couples never saw each other again. In fact, there was no uniform standard for finding guilty spouses and enforcing court orders. It was quite easy for guilty spouses to avoid taking responsibility for their actions which allegedly caused the termination of the marriage contract. Innocent spouses were often forced to start over on their own and often found them destitute.

 

The rate of divorce has increased significantly due to a decrease in restrictions that were previously in place for divorce. In the past, spouses that were able to divorce had to prove that their spouse had violated the marriage contract. As time went on, divorce restrictions were continuously eased and the rate of divorce increased, while the rate of marriages continued to decrease. In addition, the rights of divorcing spouses have been recognized in a more uniform fashion. In fact, any spouse that violates a court order will likely find themselves facing penalties for such actions. In the past, spouses wishing to avoid responsibility simply had to move to a new location.

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