Changes in Divorce

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A major change that has occurred in the Western family is an increased incidence in divorce. Whereas in the past, divorce was a relatively rare occurrence, in recent times it has become quite commonplace. This change is borne out clearly in census figures. For example thirty years ago in Australia, only one marriage in ten ended in divorce; nowadays the figure is more than one in three (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996: p.45). An important issue for sociologists, and indeed for all of society, is why these changes in marital patterns have occurred. Divorce has become a major issue in our society, and many causes have been attributed to the incline in divorce rates. Divorce rates have spiked during the past few decades and no one can accurately pinpoint one reason as to why, but several theories have been formed in an attempt to explain this recent phenomenon. The dramatic increase in the number of marriages ending in divorce is one of the most startling changes in Australia of the last century. The number of divorces has increased from 27,000 in 1961 to 153,000 by 2006. About 40% of modern marriages are likely to end in divorce and 1 in 4 children will experience parental divorce before they are 16. Feminist theory, Individualism, dual income theories and changes in the law have each played their part in the incline Australia has seen in its divorce rates in the last 40-50 years. The Feminist theory has played a huge role in the increased rates of divorce. The woman’s role within her marriage and family has changed dramatically since it became evident that a woman did not necessarily need a man or to be married. Around three-quarters of divorce petitions are initiated by women and 7 out of 10 of all divorces are granted to women. This suggests that women are more unhappy in their marriages than men, and this could be due to the fact that their expectations of life have risen and many women are no longer happy to accept their role in the family as housewife...
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