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A History of Divorce

Even though it may seem like it only exists in modern times, divorce is not a new phenomenon. The history of divorce is long and interesting. At the Schneider Law Firm in Fort Worth, Texas, we guide clients through the divorce process nearly every day. We’ve developed an appreciation for the legal and emotional complexities that have been intrinsic to divorce since the beginning.

Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon: A Notable Divorce

The most celebrated divorce case in history involves the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Beginning in 1527, Henry VIII begin asking Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage to Catherine. The Pope refused to grant the annulment. Finally, in 1533, he broke with Rome and created the brand new Church of England. Under the rules of the new church, he was able to end his marriage. The end was technically an annulment, although many people talk about it as a “divorce.”

The end of this marriage with a new church did not lead to a rash of divorces and annulments in England. The Church of England turned out to be even stricter than the Catholic Church when it came to granting annulments. In Protestant England, it was relatively rare for couples to end their marriages.

The First Divorce in America

The first recorded divorce in America took place when Massachusetts was still a Colony. The records show that Denis Clarke was accused of abandoning his wife Anne Clarke for another woman. Denis and Anne had two children together, and Denis and the other woman also had two children together. When Denis refused to return to Anne, the court punished him by granting Anne a divorce.

No-Fault Divorce: The Beginning of Modern Divorce

In 1969, when Ronald Regan was governor of California, he made a political move that he later listed as a major regret. Seeking to end the long court battles and false allegations that often came with at-fault divorces, he signed into law the country’s first no-fault divorce act. The act removed the requirement that one spouse must be at fault for the end of the marriage, and it led to similar acts being signed into law in almost every other state.

In the years that followed, the divorce rate more than doubled. Divorce rates did not continue to climb exponentially, however. Divorce rates have ebbed and flowed with the times, and many societal factors continue to affect them.

If You Need Divorce Help, Call Us Today

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the divorce process and help protect your rights no matter what challenges you are experiencing. Call 817-755-1852 to talk with us about your situation.

Sources: 

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/heartbreaking-history-of-divorce-180949439/

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-divorce-in-the-colonies

https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce