Marriage and Divorce - Sociology

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Sociological definition of mariage: a legal contract between two individuals creating kinship.

Sociological definition of divorce: a legal termination of a marriage.

^^ *Very important to know for exams, many will ask for the definitions as a two mark questions*

Trend changes with marriage and divorce:

  • divorce rate increased but stabilised in the '90s
  • first time marriage rate decreased (less people marrying for the first time)
  • remarriage rate increased, which means that divorced couples are remarrying at a higher rate.
  • cohabitation increased. (non married couple living together)
  • increase in illegitimate children (children born with unmarried parents)

Divorce law changes:

  • Before 1857 - It was virtually impossible to get a divorce, the only way was through a special act of parliament, which was costly and only the wealthy could afford, not to mention tedious. So couples were generally bound to each other until one of them died.
  • 1857 - Matrimonial Causes Act - this allowed three grounds for divorce: adultery, cruelty and desertion. But at least one of the couple had to be proven guilty for one of these otherwise they couldn't divorce. It was still costly for most people and the proof in the pudding was that there were only 150 divorces a year!!
  • Divorce Reform Act 1969 - this allowed 'irretrievable breakdown of…


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