U.S. legislation (especially at the state level) continues to pay considerable attention to the regulation of marital and family relations. It increasingly facilitates the establishment of paternity for children born out of wedlock. At the same time, some states have established additional barriers to divorce, including the need to prove adultery or battery in court, or have established a six-month separation requirement for a final divorce decree. In other states, on the contrary, the system of divorce is liberalized, for example, in the state of Nevada, where a divorce can be issued within one day.
The law provides for cohabitation of spouses, their mutual assistance and equal rights in the settlement of family and economic affairs. The property rights of legally married persons have been equalized in general, but the rule that a husband must pay his wife’s debts has been retained. The principle of separate ownership by the spouses of the property they possessed before marriage has also been preserved.
The wife also has the right to live independently. The actual division of the family is allowed when a wife unilaterally leaves her husband without divorce. The husband in this case has to allocate the means of subsistence of the wife.
Legislation has simplified the divorce procedure. In particular, the previously applicable provision that an ecclesiastical marriage can only be dissolved by a special Act of Parliament has been repealed.
The current legislation has changed the legal status of children born out of wedlock to the same level as legitimate children. Now a man who is the father of a child out of wedlock is obliged to pay alimony for his maintenance. If he does not do this voluntarily, the court can come to the aid of the child.
In the last quarter of the XX – early XXI century, some changes were made to the German Civil Code. In particular, in 1976, articles were added to further liberalize the norms of marriage and family law. Article 1569 established that a marriage could be dissolved if it “failed”, i.e. “the joint life of the spouses no longer continues and there is no reason to assume that the spouses will restore it”. The German Civil Code now provides for the possibility of dissolution of marriage at the suit of one of the spouses, who considers it impossible to continue the marriage “because of the behavior of the other spouse characterized by exceptional cruelty” (not necessarily the husband). The rule that the marriage was dissolved without restriction if the spouses had been separated for more than a year and both wished to divorce has now been replaced by a separation of less than a year.