shocking facts revealed about the history of divorce

Shocking Facts Revealed about the History of Divorce

Divorce, the legal dissolution of marriage, has a rich history that spans centuries. From the 1500s when divorce was virtually nonexistent to the present day where divorce has become more socially accepted, the way society views divorce has undergone significant changes. In this article, we will explore the historical developments that shaped divorce laws and how they influenced the present state of divorce in America.

The First U.S. Divorce

In 1643, Massachusetts saw the first recorded U.S. divorce. Early divorce laws required individuals seeking a divorce to prove fault, making it a challenging and sometimes impossible process. However, in this particular case, the divorce was granted on the grounds of bigamy, as the husband was found to have two wives and two sets of children.

Divorce Ranches and Residency Requirements

In the early 1900s, several states began revising their residency requirements, making it easier for people to establish residency and obtain a divorce. This led to the emergence of “divorce ranches” in places like Reno, Nevada, where people could stay for the required period to finalize their divorce. The ranches became a popular choice for many, including socialites and celebrities, who sought a way out of their unhappy marriages.

The Shift to No-Fault Divorce

Until the late 1960s, divorce laws in most states required individuals to prove fault, such as adultery or abandonment, to obtain a divorce. However, the concept of no-fault divorce gained traction when California’s Family Law Act was officialized in 1969. This allowed couples to divorce without having to prove wrongdoing, leading to a rise in divorce rates throughout the country.

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The Rise of the DIY Divorce

With the advent of the internet in the early 1990s, information about divorce and the legal process became more accessible to the public. Online platforms like LegalZoom started offering legal forms to individuals looking for a simpler and more affordable way to handle their divorce without hiring an attorney. Know law took this concept a step further, providing a platform for DIY divorce with the guidance of a divorce expert.

The Future of Divorce

As technology continues to advance and demand for convenient legal services grows, the popularity of DIY divorce and legal tech platforms like Know law is expected to rise. The coronavirus pandemic has also shown the potential for courts to handle divorce proceedings remotely and online, potentially indicating a more permanent change in how divorces are handled in the future.


The evolution of divorce laws throughout history reflects the changing attitudes of society towards marriage and divorce. From fault-based divorces to the acceptance of no-fault divorces and the rise of DIY divorce platforms, the legal landscape surrounding divorce has transformed significantly. As we move forward, it is likely that divorce laws will continue to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of couples seeking to end their marriages.


  1. What was the first recorded U.S. divorce? The first recorded U.S. divorce took place in Massachusetts in 1643, granted on the basis of bigamy.
  2. How did residency requirements influence divorce in the early 1900s? Shortened residency requirements in some states led to the rise of “divorce ranches,” where people could establish residency quickly and finalize their divorces.
  3. When did the concept of no-fault divorce gain popularity? The concept of no-fault divorce gained popularity in the late 1960s when California’s Family Law Act was officialized.
  4. What role did the internet play in changing divorce proceedings? The internet made divorce information more accessible, leading to the emergence of online platforms that offered legal forms for DIY divorces.
  5. What does the future hold for divorce proceedings? The future of divorce is likely to involve more technology-driven solutions, such as DIY divorce platforms and remote court proceedings, making the process more convenient and accessible.
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