South Dakota August 16, 2021
You Will Want To Hear The Story Behind South Dakota’s Former Divorce Capital Of The World
South Dakota is about as Midwestern as it gets and is known for its Midwest niceness, plus its more old-fashioned family values and pride. With all of this being said, did you know that the Mount Rushmore State used to be home to the divorce capital of the WORLD? It’s true, and here is the crazy but true story behind it:
While Sioux Falls is known today for being the largest city in South Dakota, it was once known for something entirely different, as during the late 19th to early 20th century, it was dubbed the "divorce capital of the world."
Since, at the time, marriage and divorce were both regulated at a local level, each state's grounds and process varied greatly, with states like New York only permitting it on the grounds of adultery and South Carolina forbidding it entirely.
When South Dakota became an official state in 1889, it inherited the same laws that the Dakota Territory had followed for years prior, which allowed divorce based on willful neglect, habitual intemperance, felony conviction, adultery, cruelty, and/or willful desertion.
In addition to offering a wider variety of divorce grounds, South Dakota also only required 90 days of territory residence before a couple could file.
Despite South Dakota being a new state and Sioux Falls being a newer American city, they both quickly found their niche, with divorces in Minnehaha County accounting for 3 times the national average by 1903.
Despite the profitability of divorce (and a huge draw in dignitaries and important business people from around the country), South Dakota would soon change its laws and regulations, with an eventual 6-month residency requirement and then 1-year, which quickly shuttered the industry.
Fun fact: The official divorce capital of the world is no longer Sioux Falls but rather Reno, Nevada.
For even more random Mount Rushmore State history, check out these
7 Horrifying South Dakota Stories You Didn’t Learn About In History Class. Address: Sioux Falls, SD, USA