The Evolution Of No-Fault Divorce: A Boon For Women Over Time
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day that features inequities faced by women across the globe, it’s worth looking at the history of women in America who were trapped in unhappy—even dangerous marriages, with no way out.
Sure, these days divorce is as common as potato chips and splinters, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the modern era, one partner was required to prove that the other was at fault in the destruction of a marriage—either due to cruelty or adultery in most cases. A judge had to approve of the split, and in some states, even the state legislature had to sanction it.
Women often were at a distinct disadvantage in a contested divorce, as they were up against primarily male attorneys and judges and had to have the resolve to publicly air her dirty laundry. To add insult to injury most women were homemakers who had little opportunity to get their hands on their own money, leaving them unable to afford an attorney in the first place. Finally, there was almost certainly a good-ol’-boys club that dealt with divorce in the day, making it more likely than not that women would simply not get a fair shake in a divorce. The inequity of the system made divorce prohibitively out of reach for all but the wealthiest women for decades in this country.
As the women’s rights movement evolved, no-fault divorce emerged as a way to keep the intimate details of divorce out of the courts and consequently out of the public eye. No longer was it necessary to prove wrongdoing; women could simply request a divorce and advance through the process, assuming they had the financial wherewithal to do so. And divorce statistics tell the story from there:
- Divorces increased 200 percent in the two decades from 1960 to 1980;
- While only one in five marriages from the 1950’s resulted in divorce, one in two marriages from the 1970’s did.
Other Benefits of No-Fault Divorce
Sociologists believe that no-fault laws benefit women in many ways. In addition to providing women with a way out of dissatisfying marriages, studies indicate that it discourages men who have the potential to become abusive from acting aggressively because they know their wives can leave. Finally, the advancement of no-fault divorces gives women hope, lessening the likelihood of suicide. Overall, no-fault divorce has resulted in more frequent, cheaper, quicker, and less stressful divorce in this country.
Your Advocate in Divorce
The Springfield family attorneys at Courtney & Mills advocate unequivocally for our clients, always with an eye toward the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.