Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


No Fault Divorce History


If one looks into no-fault divorce history, you would be amazed at he ease with which this controversial law was passed. It was during the Vietnam War that no-fault divorce law took its shape.

History of no-fault divorce laws

Till the first sixty years of the twentieth century, divorce laws were based on the premise that the only ground for divorce was the “fault ground” where one spouse had to prove that the other souse had committed a major wrong-doing and hence, the marriage is no longer workable. In California, in the year 1969, Governor Ronald Regan signed the nation’s first “no-fault divorce law” which allowed the disputing divorces to get rid of the burden of a relationship which was not being terminated as no wrongful acts were being committed. An attorney had once argued that you cannot hold onto a married relationship with a spouse who is not willing to go on and also if you find that the love in the marriage is long over. Thus, this premise was basically used to permit a law which has soon changed the social scene in USA.

Divorce history

The earlier Anglo-American society considered the marriage vows to be extremely valuable and important enough to last a lifetime. That was in the early years of twentieth century. Soon, it was realized that if a person is wrongfully treated by his/her spouse then he/she could be allowed to end the marriage and break the marriage. The law had softened a little. Now, divorce could be obtained on the “faults” basis;
  • Desertion or absence,
  • Cruelty (physical/emotional)
  • Adultery.
By 1950s it realized that what was termed as “cruelty” soon became the discretion of the courts. If the judges found that a particular treatment of the spouse could be termed as “cruelty”, then the divorce could be granted. Divorce laws were being continually modified and changed. Soon, it was felt that there were many couples who were unhappy with the state of their marriage but more so, because the divorce laws were insufficient to meet their circumstances. Hence, by the end of 1960s, the "grounds for divorce" was called to modify. Then, adoption of no-fault grounds for divorce was adopted as the major divorce law which allowed the spouses to divorce without proving to the court that the other spouse had done the major wrongdoings as have been listed above. This law was formally adopted in 1969. There were final touch-ups given by the beginning of 1980 which finally gave shape to the no-fault divorce laws and from then on the history of divorce has completely changed.

One might consider the early grounds of divorce where the bad behavior of a spouse was coaxing enough to go for desertion or long absence as also grounds for “no-fault”. But, here again the blame of the fault or the reason of break in the marriage was being attributed to one spouse. Thus, this was not no-fault divorce. The laws pertaining to no-fault divorce simple states that there is “breakdown of marriage” due to “incompatibility” or “differences of opinion”. There is no intention to put the blame on any of the spouses. But, what is important is that there must be a specific period of separation (for two years, five etc) as declared by the law of that state which indicates that the spouses do not have a workable marriage at all!

In a nutshell, no-fault divorce laws were the result for a history of divorce which literally forced couples to be together when all the while they were wishing to be separate. With these laws, divorce was a quick solution to rid of a tragic marriage relationship that none of the spouses wanted without finding out evidence of adultery, desertion etc.


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