Divorce and family law involve the legal process of terminating a marriage and the application and award of spousal support, child custody, child support, and distribution of properties, among many others. Divorce may be certified by a court of law to dissolve the legalization of a marriage in some jurisdictions. The terms of divorce must be determined by court under the family law which deals with family-related issues which terminates a relationship and ancillary matters including annulment, property settlements, alimony, parental responsibility, and more.
The earliest written laws on divorce can be found in the Code of Hammurabi which was first introduced in ancient Babylonia. Ancient Greeks and Romans were allowed to divorce through requests made to magistrates and after proper and serious circumspection. However, divorce was restricted during the reign of emperors Constantine and Theodosius who were both Christians. Subsequent years saw the influence of the Christian Church on the prohibition of divorce. However, as early as the 11th century, even though divorce was prohibited, annulment of marriage was quite popular. This is also referred to as legal separation which physically separate husbands and wives and forbid them to live together. The church authority determine the grounds for annulment because civil courts during this time had no power over marriage and divorce.
Family law, on the other hand, may also have its roots in ancient times when the welfare of the family especially of the children were given enough consideration and importance. In the United States, laws governing the family were enacted after the Revolution which covered marriage, child rearing, illegitimacy, and other family relations. The first family law book entitled Domestic Relations was published in 1870 and this institutionalized the basic divisions of the law and its fundamental ideological commitments such as the primacy of individual choice in marriage and parental control of child rearing. Other policies under the family law during this era included common law marriage, abortion before the first fetal movements, illegitimate children’s rights, and adoption of judicial divorce.
Divorce in the United States was first legalized in the state of Maryland in 1701. South Carolina declared divorce legal between 1949 and 1950 and in 1970, the state of Alabama legalized the no-fault divorce. The no-fault divorce is a type of divorce that does not require allegations or proofs of fault of either party. At present 49 states in America have adopted unilateral no-fault divorce laws. This takes effect for several reasons that include incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, and irremediable breakdown of the marriage. At-fault divorce on the other hand, require spouses to break a marriage using faults. Other types of divorce include summary divorce, uncontested divorce, collaborative divorce and mediated divorce.