From the 1930s to the 1960s, if you wanted a quick, simple exit from marriage, Reno was the place to go. ”Divorce Seekers” (as they were called) flocked to Reno by the thousands, including Eastern socialites, movie stars and housewives, all seeking the “Reno cure”. For three decades, Reno held the undisputed title of “Divorce Capital of the World”.
In most other states, divorce required a waiting period of a year or more and sometimes proof of adultery. But in 1931, Nevada made it simple: A six week residency at a hotel, boarding house, or exclusive divorce ranch; a list of nine legal grounds that required little proof; and an average of six minutes in court.
I became fascinated with the Reno divorce era through my husband and his stories of his time from 1947 to 1950 working as the head dude wrangler on the Flying M E, an exclusive divorce ranch 20 miles south of Reno that catered to wealthy Easterners, socialites, and Hollywood celebrities. Together we co-authored a coffee table book about the subject, The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler. (More about the book on the Blog Page, The Divorce Seekers: The Book That Inspired This Blog.)
Today, few people know about this part of Nevada history or how difficult it used to be for a woman to get out of an unhappy marriage. I hope to help preserve this history. To this end, my husband, Bill McGee, and I are currently creative consultants on an upcoming documentary RENO and the Romance of Divorce . (View the trailer in Blog Categories: Videos about the Nevada Divorce Era.)
If you have a personal Nevada divorce story, I’d love to hear from you. Please send me your story at email@example.com.
– Sandra McGee, Divorce Nevada Style