Family Life cycle
How marriage comes to an end? Seperation, divorce, partnering and remarriage
- Event perspective
- Process perspective
- History of divorce in Canada
- Divorce today (trends, timing, causes)
What happens next? Outcomes and consequences of divorce, men women and children
Repartnering? Who gets married again?
Event or process extended in time. It is a millstone, something that happens. Separated past
from future. Looks at when a marriage is legally terminated. Breaks connection between
A process that doesn’t happen at one moment of time. Extends over months and years.
Marriage breakdown that doesn’t happen over-night. Not always linear and moving in straight
lines. There could be a back and forth from moving to being together to not together. Most
importantly, recognizes that the relationships are not severed by divorce, just reorganized.
There is still an ongoing relationship in some form especially if children are in the picture. Legal
end to a marriage is a small bit to a big picture of the divorce. Process is the breakdown.
Reconciliation back and forth. And reorganization
Divorce today from Process perspective-
- Up until 1968, legal marriage was viewed as a contract between a man and a women (or
women’s family). There was responsibilities for both. If one of them broke the contract, it
would be void. Has certain implications when it comes to divorce. Prior to 68-69, divorce
in Canada could only occur if matrimonial fault happened, someone broke the contract.
Only possible if you prove someone broke the contract. (grounds for divorce today is that
we have been living apart). Someone had to be guilty and at fault. There was a big
burden for a couple to have someone guilty.
o If a man seeking divorce, all he needed to do was to show that his wife has been
unfaithful or that she had been cruel to him.
o If a women seeking divorce, generally it wasn’t sufficient that your husband had
an affair, women had to find more grounds that husband was at fault, he had an
affair and not supportive to family. For a women to initiate divorce was more
- With this contract model, one person has to be guilty. Pre 68-69. If man found at fault,
typically he is expected to take on responsibility to support the wife, wife is innocent so she is still entitles to be supported by him. If wife guilty, she did not have a right to expect
her former husband to support her. Real consequences for who was the party at fault.
- Outcomes of marriage (children). They were typically viewed as being the property of the
husband. If wife is at fault, if she did something bad, the children belong to the father. He
could lose the children if he is the one at fault the children would go with the mother and
he would have to still be financially supporting them until they grow up.
- They have to repair what they have done or make up for it at the end of a divorce. It was
very difficult to get a divorce before.
- Lots of people living separately but still married. Legal divorce had to obtain.
- There would be an operation where you could have proof of blame on people (shady
lady that set up adultery)
68-69 Piere Trudeu-
- Introduced legislation that regulate personal life
- Homosexuality is taken out of criminal code
- Contraception became legal
- Divorce laws liberalized move toward no fault system. People involved in the marriage
know best and if they say it is over, it is over.
1986 reform to a divorce law
- Peak year 1987 at 3.6 divorces per 1000
1968 divorce act
No uniform all across Canada
(Per hundred marriages)
- Quebec also has the highest rate of cohabitation
- Marriages are relatively older in newfound land
Average age at divorce Men: 44 Women: 41 Average length of marriage 14 years
Proportion of adult population
that is divorces
Proportion of divorces
population that is female not 57%
remarried ten years after Men: 70% Women: 52%
Social and Cultural Contexts of Divorce
- Liberalizing attitudes towards single adults
o Marriage is no longer understood as being the only way to be an adult
- Women’s economic autonomy
o Massive movement of married women into the workforce
o Women are no longer as dependent on a husband who financially provides
- “Pure Relationship” ideals
o Shifting notions of what an adult intimate relationship should be
o Moving toward a relationship that is egalitarian, not anchored in permanence,
more marriages coming to an end this way on a collective level this way. As
women enter into the workforce in large number and acquire the ability to earn
their own money, divorce rates go up because women are no longer perceived
as being in a marriage because they cannot get by on their own
- Decreased threshold of tolerance
o Back in the day there was a high tolerance for behaviors that the other party had
Demographic Correlates of Divorce
- Second marriage
o Higher rate because they have done it once and they can easily do it again if
o Issues to deal with were not there in the first marriage (ex. Children) - Young age at marriage
o This is why Canada’s rates are going down, getting married