The History of Divorce in England

In today's society if you need to divorce your husband or wife you must follow a fairly lengthy legal process as well as your reasons ought to belong to specific 'grounds for divorce'. However, when compared to previous centuries, today's divorce process is quite streamlined and easily obtainable. The same system of obtaining and gaining divorce can be acquired to both sexes in fact it is no longer presided over with the Church. The development with the divorce system was obviously a long process and yes it was just in the 20th century that the system began to resemble the divorce proceedings we've got today.

It seems likely that societies in very early history would not approve of divorce and wouldn't even think it over just as one option. This, however, was not the situation. The Ancient Greeks and Romans stood a surprisingly open attitude towards divorce - in Athens it turned out freely allowed. The person who wanted the divorce needed to put the truth before a magistrate who'd decide perhaps the reasons given were satisfactory. The Romans, too, were open for the notion of divorce in addition to their system was equal when it comes to gender as either the wife or husband could renounce their marriage. In early England the machine was really surprisingly just like the divorce process we now have today. In the 7th century marriages could possibly be dissolved by mutual consent or as a result of desertion, impotence, long absence, captivity and adultery.

The attitude towards divorce changed after the Norman Conquest once the influence of the Church greatly increased. Under the Church's teachings marriage was considered a sacrament and may not dissolved by human action. In medieval England there were provisions for separation - the location where the wife and husband could live apart and possess separate lives - nevertheless the marriage had been valid. In very specific cases annulments were allowed. This is when a wedding is deemed to own never existed from a particular a married couple. No kind of divorce was allowed; marriage would be a sacred union and was regulated under Canon Law. The Catholic Church received its doctrine on marriage and divorce over more than 100 years and was set down officially as Canon Law in the 1560s through the Council of Trent.

An important event inside the history of divorce may be the Reformation - under Henry VIII a huge change was made to both religion and society. After the Pope, the head in the Catholic Church, refused to present Henry a particular dispensation that will allow him to divorce Catherine of Aragon, Henry took matters into his or her own hands. In 1533 he ordered the Archbishop of Canterbury to grant him the divorce, an action that will be in direct defiance towards the wishes with the Catholic Church. The Archbishop agreed and Henry surely could end his marriage. As a result England broke outside the power of the Catholic Church and Henry was developed Supreme Head with the Church in 1534. Although this was a huge step for Tudor society, much in the divorce process actually stayed exactly the same. Though it had changed the stance on remarriage after a relationship ended, the organization with the Church of England did not mean a move out of the Catholic doctrine with the indissolubility of marriage. Though a report was build by a number of government officials that suggested an infinitely more liberal stance on divorce, it had been deemed unacceptable. The Church of England made provisions for separations but, just like the Catholic Church, ruled out divorce.

The changes that made divorce accessible towards the general population took place inside Victorian period. Before this the Church's power had waned in matters of civil law and divorces might be obtained, but generally just the wealthy could afford either the complicated annulment process or private bill necessary for a divorce. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 was the first major change that made a divorce much easier to acquire. The process happened in open court with the High Court in London. Men could petition for divorce on the grounds of their wife's adultery (an act that was required to be proved). Women may also petition for divorce but may not use the grounds of divorce alone, there needed to be another 'aggravating factor' such as rape or incest. Following this Act, the operation of gaining divorce became similar to the machine we've today. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1923 allowed women to petition for divorce on the grounds of adultery within the same way as men. Just under twenty years later more grounds for divorce were allowed inside the 1937 Matrimonial Causes Act. Husbands and wives could now petition for the divorce on the grounds of cruelty, desertion and insanity.


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