Divorce law history AQA Sociology

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Start of divorce

1857

Men could divorce an unfaithful wife. Women had to prove cruelty or another offence as well as adultery. Divorce was very expensive

3000 divorces

1921

Equal divorce grounds

1923

Both men and women

Widened grounds

1937

Grounds now included desertion and cruelty

Legal aid

1949

This made divorce more affordable. If you couldn't afford it solicitor fees were paid and legal advoce was free

27,000 divorces

1961

Divorce reform act

1969

Came into effect 1971. The sole ground for divorce was the irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This had to be established through proof of unreasonable behaviour, desertion, adultery or separation with or without consent. Divorce was available 2 years after the agreed separation but 5 if only one spouse wanted it

Minimum period after marriage

1984

A divorce could now be petitioned for a year after marriage instead of 3 years

Family law act

1996

Encouraged couples to have mediation but divorce was allowed after a "period of reflection"

Civil partnership act

2004

Civil partnerships could now divorce using the same grounds as married couples

Appeal court ruling

2007

The principle of equality counts so following divorce asset splitting starts at 50/50