In late 17th century England when Lady Anne Boteler was trying to divorce her husband on the grounds of mental cruelty, it took three years of litigation for the courts to rule in her favor. This, despite the fact that her husband beat her severely and often. He forced her to act like a servant when their house was filled with people who were paid to pull off his boots and fetch his chamber pot.
He once forced her to lie face down on the floor while he berated her with, “You are my domestic servant, and I will make you as humble as a spaniel.” His abuse came in all forms, shapes and sizes. It was verbal, physical and emotional. He called her “whore” and other names and tried to force her to have sex with him in front of the servants. She contracted a venereal disease from him twice.
It took her three years to convince a judge to grant her divorce despite the fact that he didn’t even mount a defense to her allegations, and his family was prepared to testify on her behalf. (On several occasions she was forced to seek refuge in the home of her in-laws when he came home drunk after a night of womanizing and barhopping). It’s frightening to imagine how long this case would have lasted if he had denied her charges and retained a lawyer.
That was then, what about now: How long does it take to get divorced? Today, in a garden variety divorce case, in which the dissolution of the marriage is the only issue, it takes about 90 days.
Excerpt from Divorces from Hell Copyright (c) 1995 by Jacqueline D. Stanley
Photo Credit: Camelia TWU on Visual Hunt