A Brief History of Divorce

Divorce is a relatively new phenomenon, and that’s one reason why we’re so patently bad at it. In 1900, less than 15 divorces were granted in all of Canada. And prior to the Divorce Act in 1968, the only legal grounds for divorce was adultery.

By the time I was getting my first divorce in 1980-something, divorce could be granted on the grounds of marriage breakdown. But I had to be separated for at least three years, so it was a long wait to get to the end of a bad marriage.

Like me, a lot of people took advantage of the less stringent divorce rules. Between 1968 and 1970 the number of divorces granted jumped by almost 200 percent. Wow, that was a lot of people just waiting to bust loose.

More changes came in 1986 when the Divorce Act was amended to shorten the length of time a separated couple had to wait to be divorced. Under the new rules, couples could divorce after only 12 months. So when my second husband and I split up, I didn’t have to twiddle my thumbs but could leap right back into the pool. (Hey, I live by the motto: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.) Again, the divorce rate leapt: In 1987, more than 90,000 divorces were granted.

Things settled down and have remained reasonably consistent since the turn of the century, hovering somewhere around 70,000 - 71,000 divorces a year.

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