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Did You Know Sioux Falls Was Once The ‘Quickie Divorce’ Capital

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At one time, divorce was big business in Sioux Falls.

I bring up this up because I recently ran across a story about the Washington state legislature considering extending the “waiting period” for getting a divorce in that state from 90 days to a year.

Here’s where Sioux Falls enters the picture.

During the early 1900′s, Sioux Falls made big money by catering to those seeking a quick divorce.

Because of a six month residency requirement, which at that time was considered short, men and women, some from as far away as England and France, came to Sioux Falls for a quickie divorce.

The lenient laws were originally enacted by the Territorial Legislature in an effort to help populate the territory.

Even after South Dakota established statehood, Sioux Falls didn’t discourage the quickie divorces.  The reason was these “unhappy couples” left an estimated $100,000 a year in the community.

And with at least 70 percent of all petitioners coming from outside the state, six months of accommodations was a large part of the expense of obtaining a divorce in Sioux Falls.

Some stayed in hotels, while others rented furnished houses in an area nicknamed “Divorce Row,” where rental rates were $75 to $100 a month. (By comparison an apartment in New York City rented for $35 to $50 a month.)

The Sioux Falls economy was also boosted in part by quickie remarriages, many of which occurred on the same day the divorce was granted.

The Sioux Falls divorce business eventually dried up after a 1907 state law extended the residency requirement from six months to one year. The measure was referred to a public vote, and passed by a count of 60,211 to 3,894.

 

 

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