When life has you feeling a little blue, take comfort in knowing that your state more or less got it right when crafting its divorce laws. Here in Washington State, we have access to all the resources necessary for those considering splitting up. But more than just having comprehensive legal systems and protections available, let's be thankful that these things exist at all. Citizens of some other nations are not so lucky.
Let us give you a quick lesson in divorce history to give you some perspective.
Breaking up was hard to do in Chile
Chile legalized divorce only in 2004, which was pretty late by modern standards. When divorce was finally legalized in the country, it was predicted that thousands upon thousands of couples itching to split were going to ring up their family law attorneys and start the process. That didn’t quite happen because the divorce procedures proved quite burdensome.
At the time, a trip to Splitsville in Chile required soon-to-be divorcees to go through hoops. For one, a spouse was required to present physical evidence (e.g., photographs or police records) for claims like abuse, or proof of "repeated infidelity" for claims of adultery. Enlisting the help of lawyers almost became compulsory.
It was pretty expensive too. Going through a divorce was known to cost thousands of dollars when the country’s minimum wage at the time was just over two hundred bucks per month.
Nevertheless, couples in modern-day Chile are luckier than those in the recent past, many of whom had to resort to trickery to untie the knot. For instance, some husbands just up and left their spouses. In an old tradition known rather humorously as the "poor couple's annulment," abandoned wives would place ads in newspapers and declare their husbands dead if they failed to respond legally. This way, the wives could seek widow’s benefits or be allowed to remarry.
Times have changed, as couples can now end their marriage in two ways: with a mutually agreed-upon arrangement or via unilateral request. If the duo have been living apart for at least one year, then they sign a postnuptial agreement and present it to the court, thereby agreeing on all property rights before legally parting ways. But if three years of separation have elapsed, only one spouse needs to make the divorce official by presenting an individual petition.
Ancient Rome’s divorce laws seemed to have been built in a day
In ancient Rome, divorce was as easy to come by (and for some, a bit too convenient) as marriage itself. Without having to endure lawyers or courts, Roman couples only had to declare their wish to part ways before seven witnesses — instantaneously finalizing their matrimonial woes.
Divorced wives could expect full reimbursement on dowries, while originally independent brides-to-be regained independence upon the dissolution of marriage. Married couples in ancient Rome may have unwittingly invented the concept of “no strings attached.”
However, there’s a catch: a wife who was found guilty of adultery would have to give up half of her dowry. The same did not apply to philandering husbands. It’s safe to say, feminism was not alive and well in ancient Rome.
Can’t provide coffee to your wife? Prepare for a bitter divorce
Some of the most common grounds for divorce cited today include adultery, abuse, domestic violence, and desertion, to name a few. In no-fault divorce states like Washington State, you can get divorced on grounds such as irreconcilable differences and the irretrievable breakdown of marriage.
Related reading: Domestic violence is NEVER funny…unless the weapon was food and no one was hurt
Not once in our entire career as family law attorneys in the Evergreen State have we encountered a spouse citing “lack of coffee grounds” as a reason to divorce. But in Saudi Arabia, things were a little different.
Coffee was practically an institution in Saudi Arabia before modernity even struck. In fact, coffee reached such heights of importance that the law established provisions to ensure everyone could get their hands on some 'thinking fuel' as it was known in the early days. This had to do with the fact that Saudi Arabia is the heartland of Islam and alcohol is forbidden per Muslim teachings. This explains the popularity of coffee as a drink of choice in social settings and why, if a husband couldn’t provide a basic necessity as coffee beans/grounds to his wife, then he had better prepare for a probably bitter divorce.
Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams are the family law attorneys to call for your divorce case in Washington State. Leave us a message today.