The National Assembly, having decided that it is a matter of urgency, decrees on the causes, the manner and the consequences of divorce, as follows:… Article 2. The divorce may occur through the mutual consent of the spouses. Article 3. One of the spouses may have the divorce issued on the simple allegation of incompatibility of temperament or character. Article 4. Each of the spouses may equally have the divorce issued on specific grounds, that is:
During the radical years of the Revolution a number of pieces of legislation were designed to improve family life, deemed hitherto to have been cruel and immoral, like the Ancien Régime itself. Family courts were instituted to deal with family conflict, penalties for wife beating were introduced which were twice as heavy as for assaulting a man, and the age of majority was reduced from 25 to 21. Of greatest importance was a divorce law voted at the last session of the Legislative Assembly, on 20 September 1792. This gave women remarkably broad grounds for leaving an unhappy or violent marriage. Nationally, perhaps 30,000 divorces were decreed under this legislation, especially in towns: in Paris, there were nearly 6,000 in 1793-5.
|1. the dementia, madness or violence of one of the spouses;|
|2. the condemnation of one of them to corporal or serious punishment;|
|3. the crime, cruelty or serious affront of one towards the other;|
|4. the acknowledged dissoluteness of morals;|
|5. the abandonment of the wife by the husband, or of the husband by the wife, for at least two years;|
|6. the absence of one of them, without news, for at least five years….|