Secular Jurisdiction (1783–1850)

We were able to reconstruct the matrimonial proceedings that were conducted before the secular courts based on surviving files. Although this source sample made the reconstruction of the matrimonial proceedings considerably easier, the files in the dossiers are not always arranged according to the various proceedings. Files regulating the consequences of divorce are often mixed up with files belonging to the main proceedings. The differentiation of the various matrimonial proceedings was also made easier by the fact that the magistrates’ offices and local courts could no longer be used by the married couples to negotiate the conditions for marital cohabitation. Furthermore, we no longer had to distinguish between separation and divorce from bed and board, since the judges could no longer put a time-limit on the separation. Apart from a few petitions for annulment and ” orders of cohabitation”, the magistrates and local courts functioned purely as “divorce courts”.