5 facts you didn’t know about divorce

Women in bog and coffee maker - Divorce facts

In the UK, we rather take it for granted that if we want or need one, a divorce can be obtained. We might also assume that divorce laws weren’t always as favourable as they are now. Or were they? We’ve been finding some fun facts about historic divorce laws that might just surprise you…


1. Ancient Rome had extremely high divorce rates

Ancient Rome was quite open to divorce. A couple simply had to declare they no longer intended to live together in front of seven other people. The ease of the divorce procedure, along with the ability for a woman to receive her full dowry back, provided she had not been found guilty of adultery, made divorce quite common.


2. Jewish law gave authority to divorce from as early as the beginning of Christianity

Jewish law gave authority to divorce from as early as the beginning of ChristianityJewish law allowed divorce from the very beginning of the Christian era. Men were allowed to divorce their wives if they found some “uncleanness” in her, and so became out of favour in their eyes.


3. Caffeine and divorce in the Ottoman Empire

In the 15th century, coffee played a vital role in a marriage in Mesopotamia. Potential wives were chosen or rejected based on their ability to make coffee. However, the women had the upper hand once married. If a man didn’t provide enough coffee for his wife, she could use this as grounds for divorce (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun!). This didn’t last long though, as drinking coffee became illegal in the following century, with penalties of beating or even death if caught.

The tradition still lives on in Saudi Arabia, however, where a woman has legal ‘grounds’ for divorce if her husband fails to bring her fresh coffee every morning.


4. Burgundian women bogged down by divorce

The Burgundians were a civilisation during the Roman Empire that lived where modern-day Poland is now. If a woman from a Burgundian tribe attempted to divorce her husband, the law declared she should be smothered by boggy or swampy ground.

5. Unusual grounds for divorce in US states

US states set many of their own laws, including some unusual ones for divorce These, although outdated, are still on the statute books:

  • In Delaware, a marriage may be annulled if the couple got married as a joke or as a dare.
  • In South Carolina, if a man proposes to an unmarried woman just to get her to sleep with him, he can face charges of misleading promises under the Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act.
  • In Kansas, if a husband doesn’t get on well with his mother in law, his wife can file for divorce.

If you’re confused about what grounds you might have for divorce (and sadly in England neither bad coffee or your mother in law count), call us. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your circumstances, and to take you through some options.



Image Source: Competitor of the World Bog Snorkelling Championship at the dense Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid Wales. Image by: Fotograferen.net