(106) American marriage law initially reflected the English tradition of a "divorceless
society": absolute divorce was difficult or impossible to obtain, and divorce from bed and board (effectively a legal separation) could be obtained only for cause.
England, in fact, had no judicial divorce until 1857.(186) South Carolina remained divorceless
after Independence, though other southern states granted limited access to divorce.(187) Legislatures in northern states sometimes enacted private bills granting a divorce to a single couple, who, in the opinion of the legislators, deserved one.(188) The practice of legislative divorce gradually gave way in the mid-nineteenth century to general statutes providing for judicial--or courtroom--divorce.(189)