Divorce involves the recognition that a marriage has hopelessly failed
and that at least one of the partners has no desire to continue the marital
relationship. Divorce legally dissolves a marriage, and permits the partners to
remarry if they choose. Divorce differs from an annulment, which declares a
marriage invalid because of some flaw in the contract.
The early American settlers brought with them three different views on
divorce: 1) the Roman Catholic view that marriage was a sacrament and that
there could be no divorce; 2) the English view that divorce was a legislative
matter; and 3) the Protestant view that marriage and divorce were secular
matters to be handled by the civil authorities.
The Constitution of the United States did nothing to limit the rights of
the states to enact their own laws governing marriage and divorce. Despite
several efforts to amend the Constitution, to allow Congress to pass federal
legislation on divorce, to this day the states retain separate laws. Because
divorce laws vary from state to state, the "migratory divorce" developed:
couples would move temporarily to a state where divorce was easier to obtain
than at home. For example, a couple living in New York State, where until 1967
the only grounds for divorce was adultery, would establish residence in Nevada -
- a procedure that took only 6 weeks -- and file for divorce on grounds of
Popular attitudes toward divorce changed as the United States became
more urbanized and less religious. The increasing acceptance of divorce was
reflected in court interpretations of existing laws and in new legislation
enacted by the states. Two tendencies merged, making possible the establishment
of new and easier grounds for divorce. The focus of state divorce, which
previously concerned itself with specifying legal grounds for divorce, shifted
to criteria concerning the breakdown of the marital relationship. This could be
seen in... [continues]
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"Divorce in the United States." StudyMode.com. 10, 1999. Accessed 10, 1999. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Divorce-United-States-4101.html.