SCLY2: Sociology of the Family<br />Divorce<br />
Changes in the Law<br />Divorce Law Reform Act (1969):<br />“Irretrievable breakdown of marriage”<br />Large increase in divorce as couples sought blameless separation…..<br />…..and backlog was cleared<br />
Changes in the Law<br />Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act (1984):<br />Reduced the minimum time in marriage before divorce could commence from three years to one year<br />Many “hidden” breakdowns came to court<br />
Changes in the Law<br />Family Law Act (1996)<br />Became law in 1998<br />Seen as New Right backlash to liberalization<br />Increased minimum time in marriage to eighteen months<br />Required counseling before marriage could be ended<br />
Secularisation<br />Less than 10% regularly attend church<br />Marriage vows are seen as less binding<br />Roman Catholics have recognized divorce<br />Some denominations allow divorcees to remarry in church <br />But…<br />Some faiths (egGreek Orthodox) do not recognize remarriage<br />
Change in Role of Women<br />Since 1970’s the majority of divorce petitions have been initiated by women<br />More women now work (Oakley) and are able to support themselves after divorce<br />Much less social stigma attached to divorcees (since 1969 Act)<br />
Demographic Changes<br />We now live longer and the dangers of childbirth have been effectively removed<br />Hence we are married longer and more likely to become disillusioned (Anderson)<br />
Cultural Changes<br />Marriage was once to do with security and companionship<br />It is now more about romantic love (Edward Shorter 1977)<br />This makes modern marriages more fragile and can lead to “serial monogamy”<br />
Cultural Changes<br />Higher expectations lead to greater disillusionment and a demand for divorce (Ronald Fletcher 1966)<br />Privatisationmeans that wider kinship ties are less likely to hold marriages together (William Goode 1971)<br />The emotional emphasis of modern relationships make them particularly fragile (Dennis 1984)<br />
An End to the Family?<br />Almost 3 in 5 marriages can expect to end in divorce<br />About 3 in 10 children are born outside marriage<br />More and more people are choosing to co-habit rather than marry<br />There is a small but increasing group of “elective singles” in Britain and the USA<br />
But...<br />Over 30% of marriages are remarriages<br />The majority of children born outside marriage are registered by both parents<br />Most of us experience a nuclear family at least once and more likely twice in our lives (Chester 1985)<br />The link between single-parenting and delinquency has more to do with deprivation than family structure <br />
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