Social Trends . Revision Focus: Divorce/Marriage . Case study: Text 3.
Revision Focus: Divorce/Marriage
Adapted from Daily Mail, 27 March 2008, ONS
Other relevant article - The Guardian
Divorce statistics may not represent an accurate picture of relationship
Figures may not include:
Changes in the law
Several laws have been passed to make divorce easier to obtain. Eg: Divorce
Law Reform Act, 1985 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act
Ease of divorce
The stigma of divorce is greatly reduced in society today, so people no longer
feel ashamed to be divorced.
Change in attitudes
Some sociologists argue that marriage is highly valued in society, partly due to
the image the media present of marriage as based on romance and happiness.
People now demand more from marriage and if it does not live up to the ideal
they hold then they will get divorced and try again - this explains the growing
number of remarriages.
Attitudes towards the effect of divorce on children may have shifted. It had been considered in the past that couples should remain together for the sake of the children. Now it is more commonly thought that children are better off if parents split up so that they are not exposed to constant parental conflict.
Approx. 70% of divorces are initiated by women. Women today
are more likely to be independent - with a good education,
fewer children and a job. If they are unhappy in a marriage it is
easier for them to leave and start again.
Better rights under divorce law, increased job opportunities and the
provision of state financial support can all be seen as contributing to
enhancing the bargaining position of women in conjugal relationships.
Women have, in the past 100 years, achieved many new rights in terms
of property, the vote, employment and education, and the rise in
divorce may reflect this shift in the position of women within society
and make them less willing to accept an unsatisfactory marriage.
Indeed it may have changed altogether the boundaries of the
"acceptable" within marriage. In 1946, 45% of petitions were by wives.
In 1986-1990, 73% of petitions were by wives.
Is the family in decline?
BBC News 10th February 2011
It's 40 years since the 1969 Divorce Reform Act came
into effect in January 1971.
As a result it became much easier for couples to escape
an unhappy marriage. Neither partner had to prove
fault lay with their husband or wife any longer, and as a
result the divorce rate shot up.
Removal of legal and financial barriers: Prior to 1857, divorce could only be obtained by Act of Parliament.