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First Recorded Divorce in U.S. History Tells a Common Tale

By Nottage and Ward on January 9, 2012

According to History.com, the first recorded divorce in the American colonies was that of Anne Clarke and her husband Denis Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on January 5, 1643. The divorce was granted by the Quarter Court of Boston, MA on the grounds that Denis Clarke abandoned his wife to be with another woman. In a signed affidavit, Denis Clark admitted to having done just that. He and Anna Clarke had two children; he also had two children with the other woman. In the affidavit, he also stated his refusal to return to his original wife. As a result, the Puritan court had no choice but to grant a divorce to Anne Clarke, and punish her absent and adulterous husband.

Although divorce was treated with more severity in the past than it is now, this first recorded divorce highlights an important commonality in the reasons for divorce. The system by which the divorce was carried out in 1643 may be different than the system in 2012, but the reasons for the divorce, adultery and abandonment, are not uncommon today. There are many reasons why a couple may file for divorce in modern times, but the most frequent include:

  • Infidelity
  • Abandonment
  • Financial Issues
  • Poor/Lack of Communication
  • Physical, Emotional, or Psychological Abuse
  • Child Rearing Disputes
  • Religious or Cultural Tension
  • Conflict Resolution Issues
  • Addiction
  • Differences in Expectations and Goals
  • Personality Differences

Every married couple is different, and so the reasons why one couple may divorce are likely not the same as why another would. Regardless of the reason, however, there are some couples whose problems make staying together very difficult. Divorce is not the ideal answer, but it may be the only one available for a deeply troubled marriage.

If you are considering filing for divorce in Illinois, there are a number of issues to be addressed and arrangements to be made. At Nottage and Ward, our dedicated Chicago divorce lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and options so that you may make an informed decision about the dissolution of your marriage. Call us today at (312) 332-2915 for a consultation.

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