Merry Old England
Charlotte Burne records that it was believed that if a husband failed to maintain his wife, she could divorce him simply by giving him back his ring. She was then thought to be quite free to marry again.
Females wielded exceptional power, authority and influence. Not until the coming of Christianity, when marriage becomes a holy sacrament rather than a loose contract, does the male stand totally supreme. The legal age for marriage in Ancient Rome was 12, but as many as one in five girls were already married off or living with their future husbands by this age. Divorce, however, was relatively easy to obtain; marriages could simply be dissolved by mutual consent. Indeed, many of Rome's most famous citizens were already married several times by the time they reach their 20s.
In the Mosaic law divorce was a privilege of the husband only, the vow of a woman might be disallowed by her father or husband and daughters could inherit only in the absence of sons, and then they must marry in their tribe.
The guilt or innocence of a wife accused of adultery might be tried by the ordeal of the bitter water. Besides these instances, which illustrate the subordination of women, there was much legislation dealing with offences against chastity, and marriage of a man with a captive heathen woman or with a purchased slave.
Judaic Divorce Ceremony
Some people can divorce mutually. Take a long thick rope and tie small pieces of rope along it. Each partner takes turns unknotting a segment....recalling alternately the good things that are being ended as well as the bad. Alternatively, prior to this divorce ritual, each partner might separately gather a circle of close friends and do a retelling of the reasons, what has transpired since (with the kids, with attempts at new relationships, etc.) and receive affirmations of who s/he is and blessings for his/her future.
Each person brings members of the "minyan" of their life...a few of their truest friends, who will support them during and receive and bless them after the disengaging of souls. To state that they are sure, that there is no change of heart. In a traditional get (divorce) procedure, this question is asked again and again....that this is voluntary, there is no coercion ..again, and again...as tradition wisely dictates. It is not cruelty, it is powerful like the tearing of a black mourning ribbon. The ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) is voided. This part is about getting one's soul to grasp the finality so one can move on. They are asked to reflect on what they might forgive the other person for, what they need to forgive themselves for...to be shared aloud or not.
Typical verbiage for the get document and ceremony:
....."your doorway is no longer my doorway, I no longer have the right to comment on your actions, your well-being is now in your own hands"....they stand back to back (not touching) on either side of the rabbi. The officiator prays to be able to bring through a blessing for the moment, They walk apart, towards their friends...each holding their copy of the get. It should be arranged so first one group leaves and then the other....no final hug, or mingling, no matter how friendly on occasion the divorcing parties still are. This is about cutting a cord.
When one spouse prefers not to attend, tradition allows for a messenger (called a shaliach) to bring them their get and obtain their signature of receipt for the get. In such cases the officiator may serve as the messenger and on occasion have the person giving the get at my side, s/he will read it to the former spouse, hand it over and depart with the officiator. When longer distances are involved, an alternative messenger acceptable to both parties is involved.
Muslim Divorce Customs in the Philippines
One way in which a wife can force a divorce is to swear on the Qur'an that she will no longer live with her husband. If he still insists on his rights, he will risk contaminating himself and his children with her curse.
The quickest means of divorce for the husband is the Islamic device of the threefold repudiation of the wife, or talak, in which a man merely states three times in front of the headman that he divorces his wife. The property settlement is usually quite favorable to the woman, and such cases are relatively rare.
A more common method of divorce is called pagbugit, literally "to discard something unwanted," in which it is necessary for the man to specify his reason. Usually an attempt will be made to reconcile the couple; if the divorce is unavoidable, the headman will issue a formal written certificate (in Tausug but written with Arabic script) of the divorce which is intended to protect the woman from charges of bigamy by her former husband if she wishes to remarry.