Divorce has a long and storied history in the United States, and even before the foundation of the country. In a 1639 divorce, a husband who divorced his second wife was punished. He was also put in the stocks, fined and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Luckily, we no longer have such punishments as part of divorces, but this does not mean that silly divorce laws have been eliminated.
Many readers will be happy to know that the extremely high divorce rates during the Divorce Revolution of the 1970s and 80s have long since dropped and now have plateaued. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of divorce has dropped recently from 9.7 per 1,000 people to 7.6. Of course, this rate varies greatly by state, and some divorce and marriage scholars believe this data may be skewed.
Alabama name restriction
Of course, our readers are here for the silly divorce laws. The first is from Alabama. There, after a divorce is granted, a family circuit court can actually stop the former-wife from using her former-husband’s name or initials. Now, this may seem silly, but think about famous names (i.e., Gates) and the value of keeping these names or passing them on to children from other fathers. This could have a significant financial affect.
Mississippi has a litany of reasons for divorce. Among them are cruelty, incest, bigamy and habitual drug use or drunkenness. These all make sense as grounds for a divorce. What may be surprising though is that another ground is “idiocy.”
For Baton Rouge, Louisiana, residents, luckily, we do not have to worry very much about these silly divorce laws. But, that does not mean that divorce here is easy.