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Outline and discuss the view that the rise in divorce rates since the 1970's is a direct consequence of changes in the law. 30 marks

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Outline and discuss the view that the rise in divorce rates since the 1970's is a direct consequence of changes in the law. 30 marks In 1971 the government set "the divorce reform act". This law made divorce easier and a lot cheaper for couples who decided they wanted a divorce and also allowed couples to divorce after only two years of marriage. Before this time divorces were hard to get and were only allowed on the basis of matrimonial offences, showing or proving that one partner had done wrong to the other. These matrimonial offences remained the main reason for divorce until 1971. Since 1971 divorces were easily carried out for more reasons other than just matrimonial offences. Since the 1970s the rates have dramatically increased because a lot of teenagers and younger people are getting married and their relationships don't last long leading to divorce. In 1985 the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act became effective, this allowed couples to divorce after only one year of marriage. By this time many more women were independent and were working, which was a challenge to men who still expected women to be at home and doing housework. ...read more.


All these factors lead on to describe the reasons for the breakdown, as will be discovered. The risen in divorce has lead to the normalisation of divorce. Society is no longer shocked by the idea of divorce (Cockett and Tripp 1994). Our society had become known as 'the throw away society', people are less committed to make a marriage work and have higher expectations. Ronald Fletcher (1966) argues that a higher divorce rate reflects a high value on marriage. The main partner who seems too want a higher lifestyle is the woman instead of the man. So in effect women and not men today file three quarters of all divorces. An important sociologist to support this reason is Giddens (1992) who identifies a trend towards confluent love. This form of love is based primarily on intimacy rather than emotional fulfilment, (illustrating a change in values and expectations) which results in inevitable separation due to long term satisfaction not being carried out in the form of love. Another issue relevant to this debate is the one of the increased burden upon women within the family, known as the dual burden (identified by Ann Oakley). ...read more.


This statement is supporting the argument that there are other reasons why divorce is increasing. Looking at all the evidence it can be seen that there are a large number of factors as to why divorce has increased since the 1970s. There is no doubt that successive Acts of Parliament have made it easier for individuals or couples seeking divorce to have their marriages legally terminated. The 1969 Divorce Reform Act increased the grounds for divorce, and the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Practice Act meant marriages could be ended sooner after they had began, but these seem to have had little long-term impact on a divorce rate which was already growing dramatically. Far more important, it seems, were the effects of increasing expectations of marriage (Fletcher), the nature of modern marriage (Dennis), increasing female financial independence (Hart), and the 'secularisation of society' (Wilson). That the number of divorces per thousand married couples in the UK rose from 2.1 to 12.8 between 1961 and 1988 was more to do with changes in society than laws. The legal reforms, far from causing an increase in divorce, simply reflected society's demand for the painful and protracted process to be made easier for all concerned. ?? ?? ?? ?? Anita McCulloch 12.4 ...read more.

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