Friday, April 11, 2008

Public Divorce

In the Cambridge University Press publication, Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation we read on page 252:

"The reformers insisted that divorce, like marriage, be a public act. Just as a couple could not form the marriage bond in secret, so they could not sever it in secret. They had to inform the community and Church of their intentions and petition a civil judge to order the divorce. This requirement of publicity was a formidable obstacle to divorce. Couples who publicized their intent to divorce invited not only the comfort and counsel of friends but frequently also the derision of the community and the discipline of the Church. Furthermore, judges had great discretion to deny or delay petitions for divorce and to grant interim remedies short of this irreversible remedy. Particularly in conservative courts, the petitioner had a heavy burden of proof to show that the divorce was mandated by statute, that all efforts at reconciliation had proved fruitless, and that no alternative remedy was available."

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