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The Reasons For Changes In The Patterns Of Marriage, Cohabitation And Divorce In The Last 30 Years

1265 words - 5 pages

The Reasons for Changes in the Patterns of Marriage, Cohabitation and Divorce in the last 30 Years

Over the last 30 years there has been a significant change in the
pattern for marriage, co-habitation and divorce. There are many
reasons for these changes that have taken place. For example, since
1971, when a divorce act was introduced, divorce has been more
acceptable in today's society. This has slowly increased the figures
of divorce at a steady rate. A downfall in religion has also
contributed to more people co-habiting before marriage or even instead
of marriage all together. There has also been a change in the average
marriage age due to factors like women striving more for careers
instead of families. The increase of divorce rates and co-habitation
has resulted in the two-parent nuclear family (headed by a married
couple), to steadily decrease as a proportion of all families. This
essay will look at these factors and examine how and why the pattern
of them is changing.

The divorce rate has rapidly increased over the past 30 years. Changes
in the law have added to this increase. Before 30 years ago a
'matrimonial offence' had to be proven and a 'guilty party' had to be
found for a divorce to be accepted. However The Divorce Reform Act
introduced in 1971 meant it was no longer necessary to prove guilt but
simply to show that the marriage was beyond repair. Also in 1984, the
Matrimonial Family Proceedings Act came into effect. This act reduced
the time a couple had to be married from 3 years to 1 year before they
could petition for divorce. These changes in the law have made divorce
a lot easier and have provided greater opportunities by simplifying
the procedure and reducing the expense.

Another reason for this increase in divorce rate may because of the
change in social values. Throughout the 20th century divorce became
more and more socially acceptable. Couple were less likely to stay
together to avoid the stigma and the shame formerly associated with
divorced. The rising rate of divorce has led to the 'normalisation' of
divorce, making it more acceptable as a means of a failed marriage.
The view of marriage as a 'union for life' has now less power than it
did 30 years ago.

The change of 'economic position of women' has also contributed to the
rise in divorce rates. Over the past 30 years, married women's chances
of economic independence have improved significantly. This is due to
more women entering the labour market so being able to live more
independently; and improved welfare benefits for women with dependant

This rise in divorce rates has also contributed to the change in
co-habitation. Couples in which one or both partners are divorced are
the most likely to cohabit. For example, if there divorce has not gone
through, cohabitation is an option...

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