Divorce 100 Years Ago

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, August 22, 2016.

New York keeps their divorce court documents sealed for 100 years. What was it like to get divorced 100 years ago? The New York Post finds out.

I’ve written about New York divorces before, especially the Tom Cruise divorce and why they chose New York. Only one other state, Alaska, automatically seals matrimonial cases, and that’s for 50 years.

Divorce was rare then. There were only 50 cases filed in Manhattan Supreme Court in 1915, compared to 15,000 in 2015. Living alone then was almost unimaginable for women, and men didn’t want to live alone either. The rules were different too.

Cheaters Barred from Remarrying

Otto and Frieda Bardenheier were in a10-year marriage when she began an affair with a man in October 1914. They continued their trysts at his West 66th Street apartment until her husband filed for divorce in 1915.

Judge Daniel F. Cohalan chose to punish Frieda with what was a popular penalty for cheaters at the time: He barred her from remarrying.

Name-calling was common

David Ackerman’s contemporary Herman Haenelt hit his wife, Anna, choked her and pushed her up against a wall while calling her a “dreck-sau” and “mist-stick,” German slang for “dirty pig” and “piece of s-t.”

Faking Evidence

Back then, a spouse had to be legally ‘at fault’ to divorce, which led to accusations of adultery, neglect, abuse, and fraud. If one of those grounds was not present, unhappy couples made it up.

Men would often take posed photos on a bed with a prostitute – even if he didn’t sleep with her – to try to prove that he was an adulterer and had given proper grounds for divorce.

Florida has taken efforts to keep confidential family court filings in our courthouses. In an effort to protect the privacy of parties to a divorce, and prevent identity theft, Florida recently adopted a confidentiality rule to better protect social security and bank account numbers for instance.

But Florida court filings are not private. Privacy – and confidentiality of court filings – are easily overlooked issues when filing for divorce, and something you should be aware of in deciding in which state to file.

The New York Post article is here.