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Assess the view that changes in the law led to an increase in divorce in 1970

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Introduction

December 2008 Assess the view that changes in the law led to the increase in divorce after 1970... Even though changes in the law are a big contributing factor to the increase in divorces after 1970, I think that the main reason is actually due to changes in society. However, as I have already stated changes in the law was a big factor, this is because before the 1970's divorce was extremely hard to obtain due to the 1959 Matrimonial Causes Act, this act meant that you were only able to obtain divorce if you could prove in court a 'Matrimonial Offence' such as adultery, but this caused public scandals and the details of unhappy marriages were aired in the public law court. This may of meant that people were more frighten to try and obtain a divorce because it may of bought shame upon the family, but if you did go ahead with trying to obtain a divorce but unable to prove a 'matrimonial offence', then it was expected for you to live in an 'empty shell' marriage, because at the time there was a social stigma that divorce ...read more.

Middle

However, the compulsory counselling sessions were later abandoned as they seemed to be doing for damage than good and made couple want to go through with the divorce even more. In spite of this, I think that society actually is the main reason as to the increase in divorce since 1970, due to many factors, such as the changing roles of women, growing secularization, changes in social attitudes amongst others. The changing role of women is probably the most important reasoning behind the rise of divorce rate, as women care more for their career and are less willing to accept the housewife/motherly role within the family, as it means them having to sacrifice their own careers and independence to do their own leisure activities when they wish. Over the last century more and more married women are becoming employed to the extent of 75% of married women being employed by the end of the 20th century, increasing a females financial independence, resulting in a reduction of dependency on their husbands. Also due to the wide range of welfare stare benefits helping divorced women, those with children particularly, needs less of the financial assistance that comes with marriage. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is evidential from the fact that more than 60% of marriage ceremonies are non religious. Despite this the church also now has a less rigid view on divorce resulting in a change in social attitudes, nowadays, divorce is more socially acceptable and less stigmatized, and because there is now less scandal attached to divorce procedures due to the 'Divorce reform Act' of 1969, people are more likely to apply for the legal termination of the marriage rather than separating because they are less afraid of the consequences. The growth of privatized nuclear families is another social reasoning behind the increase in divorce rates; this is due to the lessening pressure from extended kin to retain marital ties hence putting increasing demands and expectations on the partner. Also due the privatization of the family it is no longer easy for partners to gain advice from relatives. In conclusion the view that changes in the law led to the increase of divorces after 1970, even though thoroughly valid, it does seem to more to do with the social changes ongoing within communities, that have led to such a rapid increase in the number divorces. Kat Quantrill... ...read more.

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