This book presents stories of antebellum families in crisis, showing the pervasive nature of domestic violence, white women leaving their abusive husbands and filing for divorce or separation, and slaves caught in between marital clashes. It also examines the processes of revising divorce and alimony statutes, and the enactment of laws to protect married women's property before the Civil War. As time passed, lawyers and judges evolved, including state laws with regard to divorce, separation, and alimony suits. White women fared better than white men in their pleas for divorce and separation, and were likely to receive favorable results. After the Civil War, most of the suits were filed by men; slavery never again entered the equation, and women did not have to fight to retain control of their slave property.
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