The Reason For Increase In Divorce In The Uk Can Be Explained By The Changes In The Law. Discuss This Statement

652 words - 3 pages

There are many reasons why people get divorced. Many laws have been introduced changing how easy it is to get divorced since 1923. In the past divorce was rare, costs were high and there was stigma surrounding getting divorced as it was often looked down upon. However in 2012 almost a fifth of couples went through a divorce and this is because of changes in the law.

Before 1923 women didn't have the same rights as men to divorce. Women could only divorce their husband if they had evidence to show that their husband had mistreated them, committed adultery or left for over 2 years. However in 1923 this was abolished and women now had the same rights as men to divorce. This resulted in more divorce because women were allowed to file divorce on the same basis as men and therefore almost twice the amount of divorces were granted.
In 1949 there was the introduction of legal aid. This meant that ...view middle of the document...

In 1970 there was the introduction of the 'Equal pay act' law. This meant that it was now illegal for women to be payed less than men in the workplace and they could no longer be discriminated against. Much like the rise of feminism, women now felt empowered and independent enough to make the decision of filing for a divorce. It also meant women were making their own money and no longer felt that they needed to stay with their husband to remain financially stable. Women began filing for divorces knowing that they could support themselves and possible children without being dependent on her husband which lead to a rise in divorce

In 1971 came 'The divorce reform act'. This meant that people could file for divorce due to 'irretrievable breakdown'. It allowed a couple to divorce on the grounds of adultery, cruelty, desertion for at least 2 years, mutual consent (after 2 years), or if one person only wants a divorce after 5 years. This widening in reasons for divorce meant that divorce rates almost doubled as the reasons for divorce didn't have to be so precise and life changing. People could get divorced if they were simply just unhappy in the marriage.

This evidence clearly shows that changing in divorce laws has lead to higher divorce rates. As people now have more choice to divorce for different reasons and men and women are equal. People can divorce because their unhappy or simply fallen out of love. However in more recent years divorce has actually decreased. This could be because it is more common for people to stay in marriages but to be separated. Many couples often find themselves in relationships where the other person in the relationship has committed desertion, so divorce cannot be granted for 5 years. They could also be legally separated but still remain married and unable to remarry. Couples may also stay in 'empty shell' marriages in which the couple continue to be legally marries but are only married in name. There is also an increase in cohabitation as there are laws in place to help cohabiting families. These are all reasons as to why change in laws may not explain the increase in divorce.

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