This article analyzes the divorce cases processed in Chile in the 19th century during the period in which the foundations of the republican legal order were laid. Its objective is to identify the specific meanings of home as a private space and family environment in relation to the fundamental rights of men and women united in marriage. In this line, this paper investigates the tensions between these rights and the prerogatives of the husband – family man – in the liberal context and the secularization of marriage. Methodologically, divorce lawsuits allow us to immerse ourselves in marital homes given that they comprise several issues that include women’s rights, the defense of marital power, the voices of jurists and judges regarding marriage, as well as the understanding of power in the family, its abuse, and the intervention power of the State in said circumstances. This analysis reveals that divorce was a female protection resource against the mistreatment suffered at the hands of their husbands; this paper sustains that while the male prerogative to correct women was discredited, the notion of home as an inviolable space was a powerful defense for exercising marital power. Paradoxically, this discourse, although it could have overshadowed female rights, also acquired a positive meaning as a space from which to invoke rights and demand public action.


divorce intimate violence Chilean history family and law