Nation: California Style

American law permits divorce, but reluctantly. It is a deeply rooted Western tradition that the partners must be somehow punished for ending a marriage. Hence the squalid court fights, private detectives with strobe guns, ruinously expensive lawyers' fees and the weeks at Reno dude ranches. A quarter of American marriages end in divorce, and most of the divorces are doubly bitter because of the judicial process that formally pits the parting husband and wife against each other.

Now California, the Western continental edge where the nation's future is said to lie, has adopted a divorce reform law that permits a couple to...

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