A reader provides some legal context for the reasons for Fred Thompson's divorce from his first wife, noted here:

I'm a supporter of Ron Paul, but the Daily Mail statement regarding Fred Thompson's "cruel and inhuman" treatment is very misleading.  "Cruel and inhuman treatment" (or something similar) is a common legal cause of action in the divorce law of many states.  In states without no-fault divorce, one needs (or needed) a legal cause of action in order to file for divorce.  One of those causes of action is "cruel and inhuman" treatment.  Importantly, cruel and inhuman treatment was and is one of the most common causes of action in fault-based divorce states/cases, because it has a very low, very subjective standard of proof in order to get the judge to grant the divorce.  In fact, the "cruel and inhuman" treatment cause of action is identical in many respects to the "irreconcilable differences"/no-fault cause of action, but without the procedural requirements of a lengthy separation.  The standard for a "cruel and inhuman" cause of action can amount to simply showing that forcing the couple to remain married would be unreasonable.

In other words, the fact that Thompson's divorce was based on his "cruel and inhuman treatment" means nothing other than that he and his ex didn't want to have to deal with a 2 year separation before seeking their divorce.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.