History of Divorce

King Henry is commonly connected with the start of divorceAlthough King Henry VIII of England is often associated with the beginning of divorce in the modern world, the truth is that people had been ending their marriages long before this time. Important historical figures such as Julius Caesar and Charlemagne are known to have separated from their wives.

The history of divorce in the United States has primarily been driven by the laws that have been passed over the years. However, the first recorded divorce here happened in 1643, before the American Revolution and the formation of our country. The divorce was between Anne Clarke and her husband, Denis Clarke.

Starting in 1787, the Constitution gave all rights for divorce laws to the individual state legislatures. Divorce laws looked very different at that time than they do now.

Until the late 20th century, a spouse suing for divorce had to prove “fault.” This usually fell into categories of cruelty, abandonment, adultery, or mental illness. Even after this process, the case could still be dismissed in certain circumstances, such as guilt in the suing party.

By the 1960s, legislators and activists had become concerned that many people were using dishonest methods to get around the “fault” clause. In 1969, Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act for the state of California. This was the United States’s first “no-fault” law.

Since then, all 50 states have passed “no-fault” divorce laws. This means that someone doesn’t have to prove their spouse is at fault in any way to file for a divorce. They can divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” or a similar reason.

Although divorce has been evolving for centuries, it still isn’t a perfect science. There are many reasons why a separation can be full of stress, heartache and complications.

At The Huntsman Firm in St. George, Utah, we offer legal advice and representation that will give you the options you need, along with the assistance you are looking for. We focus on family and divorce law. We are committed to giving each case the attention it needs, and we have the experience and knowledge to help resolve your case and give you the best outcome under the circumstances. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.