The Social Convention of Marriage: Older than you think
The idea of alimony goes as far back as 1754 before the current era, that I could find. Hammurabi, in his Code of Laws, decreed in rule 137 that “if a man wish to separate from a woman who has born him children, or from his wife who has born him children, then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart.”
They had more to worry about back then than who would keep their hundreds of shared collectibles. They were worried about not having enough food or water, and being attacked by rival savages because the gods didn’t get enough sacrificial lambs. Could you imagine having the limited knowledge of an ancient citizen and then seeing a tornado come down from the sky? My mind would be blown.
Apparently, humans evolved with the idea of providing for a former partner nearly 4,000 years ago! Humanity has changed significantly since the Babylonian times of Hammurabi the exalted prince and his god-fearing rule of righteousness in the land, but I think it’s pretty interesting that he was an advocate for an idea that has lasted well into modern times. According to these Georgia Alimony Attorneys, there is quite the punishment for avoiding alimony, just like like in ancient Babylon.
Hammurabi’s laws were written on a giant stone monolith in his city so the people could read them and understand why they were being sentenced to death for failing to adhere by the new laws. Many of the new laws that Hammurabi is credited with creating were already in place in society but were never written down. The brutal order he imposed was rooted in the “eye for an eye” mentality that set him in history as a legend as an inspiration for our modern laws.
But he didn’t get everything right. For instance, law 200 refers to knocking another’s teeth out if they knock your teeth out first, regardless if it is an accident or not. Another example of how severe some of the punishments were is law 229 that imposes the death penalty for builders that poorly construct a home in the city. Yikes, good thing fracking wasn’t around back then. I can just see the poor builder, now being condemned to death because a microburst destroyed one of the homes they built, standing there in bewilderment as the crowd calls wildly for his execution.
I am so grateful that I live in modern times where we attempt to settle things in a civilized manner. Of course, there are still prime examples of people who could be transported back to ancient and barbaric civilizations and fit right in—I’m looking at you Reality TV. But for the most part, we’ve come a good long way over the years.