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History of Divorce

Around The World


By Molly Kalafut

Just as marriage creates a family relationship, divorce ends that marriage. Most of the
Western Hemisphere and some countries in the Eastern Hemisphere allow divorce under
certain circumstances. The legal issues surrounding eligibility for divorce are often very
complicated and include everything from alimony and child support to whether the
divorced wife must return to her maiden name. Remarriage is a surprisingly sticky issue,
and throughout history many regions regulated if or when a divorced husband or wife
could remarry.

Babylonia
Divorce regulation was first introduced by the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Babylonia.

(If a man has married a wife and a disease has seized her, if he is determined to
marry a second wife, he shall marry her. He shall not divorce the wife whom
the disease has seized. In the home they made together she shall dwell, and he
shall maintain her as long as she lives. 148th Code of Hammurabi )

Brazil
In 1978 the country of Brazil made divorce legal.

Canada
In the 1960s Canada legalized divorce. Previously the only option was to get a marriage
dissolved by an Act of Parliament with an investigation by a special committee of the
Canadian Senate.

In July 2004, a lesbian couple in Ontario, Canada became the first same-sex couple in
Canada to seek a divorce...complicated by divorce laws that define spouses as "either of a
man or a woman who are married to each other." The couple had been together for nearly
10 years, married on June 18, 2003 about a week after it was legalized and then separated
only 5 days later. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the Divorce Act unconstitutional on
September 13, 2004 and ordered same-sex marriages added.
Chile
In March 2004 the Congress of Chile approved legislation to legalize divorce after 9
years of debate and a 120 year divorce ban. The legalized divorce was signed into law
during May 2004 by President Ricardo Lagos of Chile. The first divorces took place on
November 18 2004 when the law first went into effect. Couples that want to divorce are
required to undergo 2 months of counseling and separation of 1 year if both parties agree,
or 3 years separation if the couples don't agree. The separation period can be waived by a
judge for "violations of marital duties" that include violence, drugs, criminal acts,
prostitution or homosexuality. Despite the Catholic Church's heated opposition to the
law, Lagos was quoted as saying "We cannot impose the positions of one sector of our
society on all Chileans". Until the legalization, couples had to find creative ways to
secure annulments - such as saying a false address had been given when they married.
Despite the excessive cost (3+ months salary) involved in the nearly-sham annulments,
more than 6,000 couples sought it each year. The new legal divorces cost less by about
half.

China
In 1980 China legalized the no-fault divorce. Even if the divorce is wanted by both
parties, it requires a mediation process by local committees beforehand to prove the
marriage is irreparably damaged. Committees may be reluctant to approve the divorce if
the wife can't find separate housing, which is complicated and difficult because housing
is scarce and apartments are allocated by the husband's "work unit". Since the apartment
and property are awarded to the spouse that stays in the residence, the husband usually
receives all the property from a divorce.

France
In 1792 divorce was legalized in France then later made illegal in 1816.

German States
In the Personal Status Act 1875 German states allowed divorce if the couple was
previously entitled to a religious "perpetual separation order".

Ireland
On February 27, 1997 the country of Ireland joined the rest of Europe in making divorce
legal when it passed an amendment ending the country's constitutional divorce ban.

Italy
Rome in classical times before Christianization had an informal, private divorce process.
Divorces could be carried out mutually by the partners. Husbands could unilaterally
decide on divorce for little or no reason, announced by a letter "repudium". In 449 the
emperors Theodosius and Valentinian of Rome changed the divorce law to allow penalty-
free divorces to men and woman if their spouse committed certain acts (homicide,
poisoning, robbery, etc). In addition, husbands were specifically allowed to divorce their
wife, keep the dowry and remarry later if he could prove that she was: "(I) going to dine
with men other than her relations without the knowledge or against the wish of her
husband; (2) going from home at night against his wish without reasonable cause; (3)
frequenting the circus, theatre or amphitheatre after being forbidden by her husband."

It was only in the 700s that the Catholic Church announced that marriage was
indissoluble by divorce or death. Annulments and dissolutions of marriage were
conducted in a limited way until the 1100s when marriages were enforced strictly and
even adultery could only result in separation, not divorce. Annulments were possible if
the parties could prove they were too closely related by blood, and since noble houses
were often closely related it could be conveniently exercised as a way to divorce. An
online article about family law gives a fascinating excerpt from a knight's letter in the
1100s commenting on his wife-to-be: "Without any doubt she is related to me within the
third degree. That is not close enough to stay away from her. But if I want, and if she
does not suit me, I can, on the basis of this relationship, obtain a divorce."

In 1974 the government of Italy legalized divorce.

Philippines
As of mid-2005, Malta and the Philippines remain two of the very few nations left that do
not allow legal divorce.

In March 2005, a congresswoman in the Philippines published a bill to legalize divorce.


A previous attempt had been made between 2001-2004 but died in Congress without a
vote. The measure faces opposition from the Catholic Church. Divorce had been
legalized for a time during the Japanese occupation of the Filipino-Japanese but it was
illegal again afterwards. One of the only ways to void a marriage is to use "creative"
measures, such as declare one of the spouses psychologically incapacitated...and under
Article 36 of the Family Code, the psychological incapacitation can take place after the
marriage.
Portugal
After the 1910 Revolution in Portugal, laws were passed to liberalize family law. Divorce
was legalized on November 3, 1910. Later those family laws were overturned during the
dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar around 1940.

Prussia
In 1794 the Code of Prussia legalized divorce for many broad reasons related to crime,
bad conduct, adultery, serious incompatibility, refusal or incapacity for "duties of
marriage", health reasons or change of religion. Additionally, if the marriage had no
children a divorce could be agreed upon mutually by the spouses and both could remarry
after the divorce.

Scandinavia
Between 1909 and 1929 in candinavia, many family laws were reformed; including
divorce and the status of illegitimate children.

Scotland
In the 1560s Scotland first recognized divorces for adultery. By 1573 desertion was also
grounds for divorce.

The Divorce Act of 1938 in Scotland recognized divorces for adultery, desertion, cruelty,
sodomy, beastiality and "no-fault" divorce for incurable insanity.

The 1976 Divorce Act for Scotland provided for no-fault divorces for irretrievable
breakdown for causes of adultery, desertion, unreasonable behavior, 2 years separation
and consent of both spouses, or 5 years separation. Reportedly the "unreasonable
behavior" reasons could be very broad.

Soviet Union
In the aftermath of the 1917 Revolution, the Soviet Union went through a period of very
informal divorces that could be obtained just by one spouse announcing the divorce.
Moscow reported 5,000 divorce petitions in the first few months after the change. The
rules for marriage and divorce were relaxed even further after 1926, when the divorced
spouse was sometimes notified by letter (or postcard). Mass confusion reportedly ensued
over who was married or divorced - and may not have been helped by the slow and
inefficient postal service. During Stalin's regime, the informal family law was
dramatically revoked. Divorce became difficult and expensive to obtain until the divorce
law was again liberalized after 1968 following Stalin's death.

Spain
In 1981 the government of Spain legalized divorce.

United States
In 1701 the state of Maryland in the United States declared divorce legal.

In 1949-50, South Carolina declared divorce legal.

In 1970 the state of Alabama in the United States legalized the no-fault divorce.

Reference: http://molly.kalafut.org/marriage/divorce.html
DIVORCE IS AGAINST THE LAW OF GOD

Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for
him.”

Genesis 2:24, KJV Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 1:28a God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and
subdue it.”

Mark 10:6-9 But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So
they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let ma not n separate

Mark 10:11-12 [Jesus] answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits
adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 Jesus is quoted again, saying, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman
commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Romans 7:2-3 The apostle Paul taught that “...by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long
as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries
another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is
released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.”

1 Corinthians 7:10-13, 27, 39 The apostle Paul’s teaching continues: “To the married I give this command
(not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain
unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say
this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he
must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her,
she must not divorce him ... For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the
unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be
unclean, but as it is, they are holy. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not
look for a wife ... A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free
to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”

Matthew 19:3-9 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce
his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the
Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and
mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but
one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did
Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied,
“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way
from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness,
and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Reference: http://www.jimfeeney.org/divorceandremarriage.html
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE TO THE CHILDREN

"So many persons think divorce a panacea for every ill, find out, when they try it, that the
remedy is worse than the disease" (Qtd in Harper 192). Divorce, in any circumstance, rips
a child apart, tossing him/her from one house to another, limiting time spent with his/her
parents, and confusing him/her. There are very few reasons that would prove to be more
beneficial for the parent to leave than to stay and endure his/her marriage. Usually it is
more advantageous to children if their parents work through their differences rather than
get a divorce.

By any definition, divorce is a horrible word. There is no way to make the word sound
better or make its effects less painful. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, divorce is
"the legal dissolution of marriage or the termination of an existing relationship or union"
(Webster’s 370). This definition makes the word seem formal and does not accurately
display the feeling that sweeps over a person when the word is mentioned. A better
definition of the depth of the word comes from Whitney, holding a child’s point of view,
"Divorce is like a thousand knives being thrown at one’s heart or a slow, painful ride
through Horror Mountain" (Through 1). Her definition more accurately describes the
feelings and emotions that go along with the mention of divorce. Most children would
agree with Whitney’s summary of divorce. To them, divorce is much more than a legal
dissolution; it is their whole world being torn apart and thrown on the ground in pieces.

One of the biggest problems that divorce imposes on children is the decision of whom to
live with. Usually parents divorce when children are small and the children have no say
in where they go. Since the child cannot choose, this leads to custody battles that end in
split custody or joint custody. Whatever the choice may be between the two types of
custody, either will prove detrimental to the child.

When split custody is the decision, it forces a child to choose (or the court to choose) one
parent to live with, and it limits the quality time the child spends with either parent. When
the child only lives with one parent, the ties with the other parent are severely damaged.
According to the National Survey of Children, close to half of all children with divorced
parents had not seen their nonresidential parent in the past year, and only one in six had
weekly contact or better (Whitehead 2). Since the children don’t see both parents often,
the parent with whom the child lives is usually thought upon as strict and no fun because
that parent is always there and is always responsible for disciplining the child. The
nonresidential parent is more often viewed as the fun, exciting one that the child longs to
be with. This parent many times showers his/her child with presents, and money is used
in an attempt to buy the child’s love. The child, although often spoiled, does not usually
feel the deep security of having a close family, since he/she is constantly moving from
house to house. Because of the constant movement, the child does not generally receive
quality time from either parent, and it makes it more difficult to feel loved.
Joint custody, on the other hand, proves to be even less successful (Zinmeister 29). This
type of custody is now allowed in half of the states, although, joint custody is very
unusual because of the extreme complications. In California, where divorce is more
common than anywhere else, only eighteen percent of divorced couples have joint
custody. Even when the divorced parents maintain regular contact with their children,
truly cooperative child rearing is rare (Zinmeister 29). Most often, research shows, the
estranged parents have no communication or mutual reinforcement; this leads to very
unhealthy parent-child relationships. Joint custody is even worse on a child because there
is even more movement involved. With split custody, the child goes to the nonresidential
parent’s house on a certain schedule. In joint custody, however, the child is constantly
moves back and forth between houses, causing an even greater lack of quality time
between parent and child.

The custody battle can be damaging, but the divorce of a child’s parents can also
thoroughly confuse the child, suggesting that it is better for parents to stay together. The
child does not have a concept as to what commitment really means. Since these children
see their parents breaking vows without a second thought, they begin to believe that
what is right for a parent must be the right thing for them to do as well. Children are
shown that they do not have to work out their problems as long as they can run away.
This is one reason that so often today when someone makes a promise there is really no
certainty of whether it will happen or not. According to The Effects of Divorce on
Children, an article written by J. Lynn Rhodes, young adults whose parents have
divorced previously are likely to have social problems and trouble forming and
maintaining intimate relationships (Effects 1). The value of a person’s word has
lessened. This is partly because of the bad examples parents are setting for their
children when they get a divorce.

Generally, it is better for children to suffer a bad marriage than to cope with
divorce. According to University of Michigan psychologist and divorce expert Neil
Kalter, "So many persons think divorce a panacea for every ill, find out, when they try it,
that the remedy is worse than the disease" (Qtd in Harper 192). Divorce, in any
circumstance, rips a child apart, tossing him/her from one house to another, limiting time
spent with his/her parents, and confusing him/her. There are very few reasons that would
prove to be more beneficial for the parent to leave than to stay and endure his/her
marriage. Usually it is more advantageous to children if their parents work through their
differences rather than get a divorce.

By any definition, divorce is a horrible word. There is no way to make the word sound
better or make its effects less painful. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, divorce is
"the legal dissolution of marriage or the termination of an existing relationship or union"
(Webster’s 370). This definition makes the word seem formal and does not accurately
display the feeling that sweeps over a person when the word is mentioned. A better
definition of the depth of the word comes from Whitney, holding a child’s point of view,
"Divorce is like a thousand knives being thrown at one’s heart or a slow, painful ride
through Horror Mountain" (Through 1). Her definition more accurately describes the
feelings and emotions that go along with the mention of divorce. Most children would
agree with Whitney’s summary of divorce. To them, divorce is much more than a legal
dissolution; it is their whole world being torn apart and thrown on the ground in pieces.

One of the biggest problems that divorce imposes on children is the decision of whom to
live with. Usually parents divorce when children are small and the children have no say
in where they go. Since the child cannot choose, this leads to custody battles that end in
split custody or joint custody. Whatever the choice may be between the two types of
custody, either will prove detrimental to the child.

When split custody is the decision, it forces a child to choose (or the court to choose) one
parent to live with, and it limits the quality time the child spends with either parent. When
the child only lives with one parent, the ties with the other parent are severely damaged.
According to the National Survey of Children, close to half of all children with divorced
parents had not seen their nonresidential parent in the past year, and only one in six had
weekly contact or better (Whitehead 2). Since the children don’t see both parents often,
the parent with whom the child lives is usually thought upon as strict and no fun because
that parent is always there and is always responsible for disciplining the child. The
nonresidential parent is more often viewed as the fun, exciting one that the child longs to
be with. This parent many times showers his/her child with presents, and money is used
in an attempt to buy the child’s love. The child, although often spoiled, does not usually
feel the deep security of having a close family, since he/she is constantly moving from
house to house. Because of the constant movement, the child does not generally receive
quality time from either parent, and it makes it more difficult to feel loved.

Joint custody, on the other hand, proves to be even less successful (Zinmeister 29). This
type of custody is now allowed in half of the states, although, joint custody is very
unusual because of the extreme complications. In California, where divorce is more
common than anywhere else, only eighteen percent of divorced couples have joint
custody. Even when the divorced parents maintain regular contact with their children,
truly cooperative child rearing is rare (Zinmeister 29). Most often, research shows, the
estranged parents have no communication or mutual reinforcement; this leads to very
unhealthy parent-child relationships. Joint custody is even worse on a child because there
is even more movement involved. With split custody, the child goes to the nonresidential
parent’s house on a certain schedule. In joint custody, however, the child is constantly
moves back and forth between houses, causing an even greater lack of quality time
between parent and child.

The custody battle can be damaging, but the divorce of a child’s parents can also
thoroughly confuse the child, suggesting that it is better for parents to stay together. The
child does not have a concept as to what commitment really means. Since these children
see their parents breaking vows without a second thought, they begin to believe that what
is right for a parent must be the right thing for them to do as well. Children are shown
that they do not have to work out their problems as long as they can run away. This is one
reason that so often today when someone makes a promise there is really no certainty of
whether it will happen or not. According to The Effects of Divorce on Children, an article
written by J. Lynn Rhodes, young adults whose parents have divorced previously are
likely to have social problems and trouble forming and maintaining intimate relationships
(Effects 1). The value of a person’s word has lessened. This is partly because of the bad
examples parents are setting for their children when they get a divorce.

Generally, it is better for children to suffer a bad marriage than to cope with divorce.
According to University of Michigan psychologist and divorce expert Neil Kalter, the
misery of an unhappy marriage is less significant than the changes after a divorce.
The children would rather watch their parents keep fighting and not get divorced
(Marriage 64). Although this does not seem logical, it shows that children want their
parents together at all costs. Also, contrary to popular belief, the alternative to most
divorces is not life in a war zone (Zinmeister 30). In the vast number of divorces there is
no strife or violence that could ruin a person’s childhood; the divorce is usually driven
by a quest for "greener grass." These divorces almost always make the child worse off
and create a number of unnecessary problems for the child. If parents would concentrate
harder on working conflicts out rather than their own personal happiness, the children
would be much better off.

It generally proves to be more beneficial for a child if his/her parents stay in an


imperfect marriage rather than getting a divorce. The various activities that are
involved with a divorce severely damage a child. The child lacks a sense of belonging
and becomes very confused. Therefore, when a person gets married, he/she needs to think
long and hard to make sure that this is the right choice for him/her and for possible
children that may come along one day. The person needs to make sure he/she does not
settle for the person he/she can live with; he/she needs to wait for the person that he/she
cannot live without. As Jesus says in Mark 10:5-9:

It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the
beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So
they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God hath joined together, let no man put
asunder

Reference: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rhetoric/105H16/cova/jlscova.html
DIVORCE IS TOO EXPENSIVE
Financial problems often drive couples apart, but the nation's overwhelming
economic crisis may be holding them together.
Marriage counselors and divorce lawyers nationwide say more distressed couples
are putting off divorce because the cost of splitting up is prohibitive in a time of stagnant
salaries, plummeting home values and rising unemployment.

While the stress of economic uncertainty often worsens already shaky unions, it
also can make couples more financially dependent on each other, said Pamela Smock, a
researcher at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“Anything of this magnitude that’s going to affect millions of people does not bode well
for all sorts of families,” she said. “It could keep unhappy couples together.”

Divorces have always been expensive. For a contested proceeding that goes to court, a
couple with at least one child can expect a divorce to cost anywhere from $53,000 to
$188,000, according to calculations based on census data by the Web site Divorce360,
which factored in attorneys’ fees, financial advice, counseling and real-estate costs for
buying or renting separate homes.

Often many of those expenses are recovered when a couple sells their home and divides
the proceeds. But the disastrous real-estate market is leaving many homeowners owing
more on their mortgages than their properties are worth — turning what would normally
be their biggest marital asset into a liability.

“They also can’t go out and get a credit card or personal loan to pay attorney fees or to
even try and find a piece of real estate because the lending market is tightening down on
them,” said Kevin Hughes, a criminal and family lawyer in Cincinnati.

Reference: http://oddculture.com/2008/11/25/too-expensive-to-divorce/