Learn About the Intriguing Evolution of Divorce in the U.S.


Learn About the Intriguing Evolution of Divorce in the U.S.

us flag

It’s been 47 years since California became a no-fault divorce state. Since then, all but one state (New York) has instituted at least some form of no-fault divorce.

Before then, however, getting a divorce was a bit more difficult. In this issue, we’ll talk about the evolution of divorce in the U.S.

Portions of this article were taken from an article originally published on MSN.com.

Advantages of No-Fault Divorce

Under California’s no-fault divorce laws, you or your partner can file for divorce at any time with no requirement to provide a reason. All that’s needed is for either you or your partner to state that you cannot get along with each other. Legally speaking, that’s enough to reach the “irreconcilable differences” threshold.

What Was Required for Divorce in the U.S. During Every Decade Since the 1900s

  • Divorce in the 1900s
    Allegations against your partner for adultery, abuse or abandonment had to be proven by you. Restrictions were so tight that the Inter-Church Conference on Marriage and Divorce pushed for stricter divorce laws nationwide. Thanks to the then growing tide of feminism, however, increasingly more women decided to opt out of marriages.In general, western states (Utah, Indiana and South Dakota) offered more relaxed divorce laws than those on the East Coast. In response, East Coast couples would travel west for a quickie divorce.


  • Divorce in the 1910s
    With 1 in 7 marriages ending in divorce, the U.S. had the highest divorce rate in the world. Women who filed for divorce were generally looked upon by society as being responsible for ripping apart families.


  • Divorce in the 1920s
    Even though women – and specifically, the feminist movement – were high on the blame list for the increasing divorce rate, trial marriages were established in some states. This enabled couples to live together without being married.


  • Divorce in the 1930s
    Due to unemployment and insecurity caused by the Great Depression, more couples tended to wait longer before marrying, while less people filed for divorce for fear of making things even harder on themselves.While New York and other states outlawed Common Law marriage, professional witnesses found work helping to prove claims of adultery, cruelty, and abandonment in divorce cases.


  • Divorce in the 1940s
    While there was a spike in marriages in the lead-up to World War II, the divorce rate climbed during peacetime as reality of married life began to set in for some.A landmark divorce case occurred in 1942 when a judge ruled that refusing to engage in “natural sex” (sex that could lead to offspring) could be considered grounds for divorce.


  • Divorce in the 1950s
    The major change in the 50s was the decision to allow marriages to be dissolved in family courts rather than in traditional court rooms. More resources (marriage help and advice books) became available throughout the decade.


  • Divorce in the 1960s
    Two huge court rulings dramatically changed the marriage and divorce landscape.

  A New York court ruled in 1960 that refusal to have sex with your partner could be seen as abandonment. This decision differed from the 1942 case in that reproduction was not listed as a qualifier.

  In 1966, the California Supreme Court ruled that property acquired during a marriage belonged to both spouses and would be shared or divided in the event of divorce.

  • Divorce in the 1970s
    In 1970, then-California Governor Ronald Regan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce legislation, meaning that spouses could file for divorce without having to prove the other spouse had done anything wrong.


  • Divorce in the 1980s
    Gradually, more states came online with their own versions of no-fault divorce laws. Some states, for example, made no-fault divorce possible only after both parties had been separated for one year.

   It was also during the 80s that divorce became a common theme in TV shows and in movies.

  • Divorce in the 1990s
    The notion of mediated divorces became popular as more couples were looking to avoid nasty encounters in court.

  Also during the 90s, some states promoted the idea of covenant marriages, where couples signed contracts vowing to seek mediation and counseling before actually filing for divorce.

  • Divorce in the 2000s
    The collaborative divorce process became popular. In this, before filing for divorce, couples sat down with their lawyers in 4-way meetings to hash out a settlement that was in the best interest of the family.


  • Divorce in the 2010s
    And here we are in 2017! Research about marriage has contributed greatly to the identification of common underlying issues that can lead to divorce. Also, thanks in large part to the media’s obsession with celebrity divorce and the fact that more couples are living together rather than marrying, society’s attitudes towards divorce are much more lenient and understanding than when the 20th century began.

Call the Men’s Legal Center in San Diego

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce or have already been served, we urge you to make sure all of your interests are protected, and all requirements are completed and done the right way.

For more information, get in touch with us here at the Men’s Legal Center.

Our number is (619) 234-3838 or you can reach us via email.


Share It

Call us at (619) 234-3838

Skip to content
CTA Mobile CTA Email
(619) 234-3838