September 29, 2023

Did you understand that yours (for those who go there) — and all divorces are recorded? As with many international locations, the USA information a majority of its divorces. Which means the state shops the overall details about your divorce, together with the rationale for the divorce, details about the folks concerned, the date of the wedding, the ending date, and the ultimate settlement.

Courts file divorces to advertise transparency in authorized issues. It permits the general public to know what occurs behind closed courtroom doorways. Divorce information are publicly accessible in all states in order that anybody can request divorce info. Some circumstances would permit an individual to advocate to have their divorce file sealed, if, for instance, it will be actually unhealthy for a kid, household, or a celebration’s funds. Nonetheless, most recorded divorces can be found to the general public. Whereas it’d really feel odd to know the fundamentals of all divorces should not non-public, it truly permits us to be taught loads about divorces over time! This text will look into some fascinating or sudden statistics and tales from the USA’ lengthy historical past of recording divorces.

How Lengthy Have Divorces Been Recorded?

There may be proof that official divorces had been commonplace within the historic society of Babylon, Mesopotamia, as way back as 1760 BC. There is no such thing as a file of particular divorce cases at the moment, however there’s proof that divorce was authorized and did happen. 

King Hammurabi had stone tablets with codified divorce legal guidelines. The legislation allowed males to divorce ladies with a easy assertion and a following cost or advantageous. However the legislation required ladies to acquire a grievance to ask for a divorce and thus undergo some historic judicial course of.

The First Recorded Divorce in the USA: Anne Clarke’s Groundbreaking Case

The US had its first divorce recorded in early January 1643. In a gripping story of desertion and bigamy, Anne Clarke efficiently acquired a divorce from her husband after he left her and her youngsters to be along with his second household. The federal government granted Anne a divorce and publicly shamed and punished her Ex. Whereas Anne’s divorce was the primary recorded in the USA, it probably was not the primary. There are letters and particulars of ladies and men begging each judges and state legislatures to grant them a divorce. Nonetheless, only a few, if any, divorces had been granted earlier than Anne Clarke’s.

For girls fascinated about … or starting the divorce course of, you’ll need to contemplate Annie’s Group, SAS’ signature, 3-month group teaching program for these wanting an schooling, neighborhood, and steerage for studying what is feasible for his or her life.

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Whereas divorce is at all times tough, early United States legal guidelines required a lady in search of divorce to show fault. This implies she needed to show that her partner dedicated a heinous act. These acts included: merciless and barbarous remedy, bigamy, the conviction of a felony, desertion, and a sample of horrible habits. Not solely did she must show that her partner’s actions met a requirement for divorce, however she additionally needed to show that her palms had been completely clear and that she had not achieved something mistaken. The shift away from fault-based divorces enabled extra ladies to file for and procure a divorce.

Be taught extra about proving the Different mistaken in Fault Divorce vs. No Fault Divorce: What You Have to Know. 

The place are the Most Divorces Recorded?

The flip of the 20th century introduced in a wave of divorces, as they turned extra commonplace in society. Nonetheless, most states had very strict, prolonged residency necessities earlier than ladies might file for divorce in any given state. Given the strict necessities, some states, most notably Nevada, shortened its divorce residency requirement to encourage ladies to maneuver to the state to qualify for a divorce. Nevada’s plan labored wonders, because it shortened its residency requirement to solely six weeks as an alternative of the frequent six-month to one-year ready interval.

Go deeper and be taught “Which States Have the Shortest Residency Requirement to Divorce (and Which Ones, the Longest?)

The Rise of Divorce Ranches and the Famend Reno Divorce Tradition

There have been additionally unofficial “divorce ranches,” communities ladies might reside in for six weeks to realize the residency wanted for divorces. Probably the most vital and most notable divorce ranch was in Reno, Nevada. The lead-up to divorce was so fashionable that it was coined “The Reno Divorce,” and the tourism business marketed town because the divorce capital of the world. Getting a Reno Divorce was a cultural phenomenon, as many celebrities, together with Rita Hayworth, Norman Rockwell, and Mary Rockefeller, partook. In its prime, town of Reno had hundreds of divorces recorded. The variety of divorces jumped from about 1,000 per 12 months within the early 1900s to about 19,00 per 12 months by mid-century. 

To at the present time, Nevada nonetheless ranks third in essentially the most divorces recorded per 1000 folks yearly. It follows solely Arkansas and Oklahoma by a small margin. Compared, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Texas have the bottom numbers of divorces recorded yearly. When it comes to regional distribution, the South information the very best variety of divorces, whereas the Northeast information the bottom. Concerning when divorces happen, most individuals file for a divorce between January and March. Some researchers imagine it is a aspect impact of familial pressure throughout the vacation season. 

For extra on the historical past of divorce in the USA, try “Divorce Legal guidelines in the USA: Then and Now.”

Worldwide, the USA ranks within the prime twenty international locations with the very best divorce charges. The nation with essentially the most divorces recorded per 1000 folks is the Maldives, adopted by Kazakhstan, after which Russia. The US is available in thirteenth for divorce worldwide. 

How Many Divorces Have There Been?

In 2020, there were roughly 630,500 divorces recorded throughout the USA. This was a pointy lower from the roughly 750,000 recorded in 2019. A current downward development in divorces has been recorded over the previous decade. That is fascinating as a result of some specialists say the pandemic elevated relationship turmoil and potential divorce as a result of {couples} needed to spend prolonged intervals in shut quarters collectively. Nonetheless, the lower in formally recorded divorces may also be partially attributed to the pandemic, as there was restricted accessibility to courts, and the courts are nonetheless coping with the pandemic backlog. 

General, the variety of divorces has drastically decreased over time. In 1975, about 1 million divorces had been recorded throughout the USA. For the reason that flip of the century, over 8.3 million divorces have been recorded in the USA.


Typically, it’d really feel like you’re alone within the divorce course of. Nonetheless, thousands and thousands of individuals in United States historical past have been in the same boat. Accessing info relating to the divorces recorded in the USA permits us to dive into the historical past, statistics, and divorce tendencies. This in flip offers us perspective on ourselves, our evolving tradition, and the way the authorized rights of ladies proceed to unfold over time. 


Elizabeth Newland is a third-year legislation pupil in Chicago dedicated to youngsters and household rights. She goals to work in a family-related non-profit agency after commencement. 


Since 2012, sensible ladies world wide have chosen SAS for Girls to accomplice with them by the emotional and oftentimes difficult expertise of divorce. We invite you to be taught what’s potential for you and your valuable life. Schedule your FREE 15-minute session with SAS now.


*We assist same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity on this article, nevertheless, we discuss with your partner as your “husband” or a “he.”