Divorce History: How the Divorce Process Changed for the Better
People have been getting divorced in the US for hundreds of years, one of the earliest of which occurred in what is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A quick look at divorce history shows the divorce process has made big strides since those early days. Most of these changes are for the better, such as granting rights to wives, allowing judges to ratify agreements between spouses, and creating no-fault grounds. After learning a little about divorce history, you may begin to see how good you really have it.
Divorce History Through the Ages
Though divorce has been around for a long time, it hasn’t always been the same process. And, as society has changed, so has our attitudes toward marriage and divorce. A timeline of divorce history shows how we approach divorce in the US has changed with the times.
New York passed the Married Woman’s Property Act in 1848 in New York, and many states quickly followed with similar legislation.
The act granted wives certain rights to property they previously did not have. Before the act, there was no guarantee a woman would receive property in a divorce. Men were the sole owner of most assets, and this made divorce financially risky for many women. The act granted women more rights to property. These property rights made divorce a possibility for women who were not financially independent.
In the 1950s and 60s, family courts were created to lessen the burden of family disputes on the traditional court system. These limited jurisdiction courts provided a specialized venue in which to hear cases such as divorce and separation. Family court judges could ratify agreements made between spouses, which meant fewer divorce cases had to be litigated or tried. This made divorce more accessible to many.
In 1969, California became the first state to introduce a no-fault ground for divorce. Prior to this, fault, such as adultery or abandonment, had to be proven. The rest of the US eventually followed California’s example, and today all 50 states have a no-fault ground for divorce. This paved the way for today’s divorce climate where you can get divorced with relatively little court involvement.
Today, divorce mediation and other alternatives to the courtroom divorce are becoming more popular. Couples have the freedom to file for a no-fault, uncontested divorce in Massachusetts and many other states, which dramatically cuts down on the time and cost of divorce. Instead of spending a year in litigation, a couple can work together to create an agreement over the terms and conditions of the divorce. Once the judge approves the agreement, the divorce judgment can be entered. Consult with a divorce mediator if you have questions about creating an agreement with your spouse. There are many benefits to mediating your divorce, but you may need some information and guidance in the process, and a mediator can provide these.
If you have questions about the divorce process in Massachusetts, contact Mediation Advantage Services for expert help. Experienced in divorce mediation, Polly A. Tatum can provide you the information and guidance needed to help you mediate your divorce amicably. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 795-1557, fill out our online form, today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session.
You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.