By: Jennifer Peter, Associated Press Writer
(AP) When Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry dismissed calls that he make his divorce records public, he apparently didn’t know many of them already are.
In 1988 Kerry and his first wife, Julia Thorne, were granted a “no-fault” divorce after 18 years of marriage. They cited the generic grounds of “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” according to divorce records.
The only portion of the records that are sealed involve the couple’s financial information, including salary, assets and debts, which are impounded in all divorce cases, Assistant Norfolk Probate Registrar John Jenney said.
Kerry has denounced inquiries about whether his divorce records should be unsealed, a question that has been raised frequently since Illinois Republican candidate Jack Ryan dropped out of the U.S. Senate race last week. His unsealed divorce and child custody records revealed allegations that he tried to pressure his former wife, television actress Jeri Lynn Ryan, to have sex in public at clubs.
Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said that when Kerry said he wouldn’t make his divorce records public, “he was probably thinking about the pieces that are sealed.”
After nearly six years of separation, Kerry and Thorne filed jointly for a divorce on June 24, 1988. Norfolk Probate Court Judge James Sweeney approved the divorce on July 25, 1988.
A separation agreement, which included custody and alimony arrangements, was presented to the judge, but it is not included in the public file. It is within the judge’s discretion to allow the attorneys in the case to hold them in their own files, which they did in this case.
According to Jenney, separation agreements do not contain the grounds for divorce but the nitty-gritty of the financial arrangement between the two parties.
On June 9, 1995, Kerry and Thorne submitted an application to impound “all pleadings and other papers filed with the Court” in connection with their divorce. Norfolk Probate Court Judge John Cronin denied the request the same day.
Massachusetts became a no-fault state in 1978, meaning that parties do not have to provide a reason for the divorce unless one side contests it.
Kerry and Thorne married on May 23, 1970. They had two daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa. Kerry married Teresa Heinz, the widow of Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz, in May 1995.