SOC2220 Chapter 10

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 2220
Professor
Luming Wang
Semester
Fall

Description
Class: FRHD*1020 (Couple and Family Relationships) Professor: S. Murray Textbook: “The Family Dynamic – A Canadian Perspective” Fifth Edition Authors: Margaret Ward and Marc Belanger Publisher: Nelson ISBN: 978-0-17-650200-3 Chapter 10: Coming Apart – The Divorce Experience Learning Objectives • To place divorce in historical perspective • To consider the causes for divorce • To look at the developmental stages of divorce and its relationship to the family life cycle • To describe the three crises of divorce – emotional, economic, and parental • To examine the effects of divorce on children • To consider issues around the custody of children Divorce – the legal dissolution of a marriage Divorced families add two or three phases to the life cycle: separation, perhaps remarriage, and finally, stabilization in a new family pattern. A SHORT HISTORY Marriage was a way to unite families, providing stability for society. Divorce was only for grave reasons (biological descent for inheritance means adultery was a threat but cruelty was considered part of family life). Laws were strongly influenced by the Church of England in Upper Canada (Ontario) and the Roman Catholic Church in Lower Canada (Quebec). Neither church recognized divorce so no divorce law existed. New Brunswick allowed divorce in 1758 on grounds of adultery and desertion. 1787 Nova Scotia – adultery. Though we do not know how many were granted. Confederation in 1867, federal Parliament gained exclusive authority in matters of divorce but allowed existing provincial laws to stand or change. Divorce process was long and expensive. Deserting family was easier than going through a legal divorce. 1925 on, women could sue on the same grounds as men for divorce. By 1968 all provinces except QC and NF had divorce laws with adultery basically sole grounds for divorce. Immediately after WWII, divorce rate jumped. People married in increasing numbers. The few divorce-related bills that were introduced in the House of Commons or the Senate in the 1940s did not pass. 1960s saw much change. 1966 – Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on divorce held many hearings. Church had changed position. RCC – members could vote according to their conscience; Anglican and UCC included marriage breakdown as acceptable cause for divorce. Bill C-187 introduced no-fault principle of marriage breakdown as legitimate ground for divorce; both no-fault and fault grounds were equally available to husbands and wives. Transferred jurisdiction for all divorces to the courts. July 2, 1968 new divorce law received royal assent. 1985 amendments to law, led to another jump in divorce rate. Reduced waiting period for divorce on grounds of marriage breakdown to one year; could petition jointly for divorce. Separation of cohabitors probably more common than divorce. Now, more than ever, more people aged 50-74 have been divorced than never married at all. Table 10.1 – Divorces in Canada Year Number of Divorces 1921 558 1941 2,462 1961 6,563 1968* 11,343 1969 26,093 1981 67,671 1985** 61,980 1986 78,304 1987*** 96,200 1998 69,088 2000 71,144 2002 70,155 2003 70,828 2005 71,269 *1968 – reform of divorce laws **1985 – Divorce Act (“no fault”) ***1987 – peak year for divorces WHY PEOPLE DIVORCE 2005 – 94.8% stated separation as reason for divorce, 3.1% claimed adultery, 1.2% mental cruelty and 0.9% physical cruelty. Attitudes toward divorce for 3 reasons: fundamental issues, experiential issues and fertility issues. Though divorce is the result of personal dynamics of a couple, researchers have catalogued social risks: age (marriage before 20 more likely to divorce); education (less than high school; connection between education and income); cohabitation before marriage; imprisonment; infrequent churchgoers; spouses with divorced parents likely to divorce. Remarriages are subject to different risk factors. Cohabitation not a risk, remarriages at young age likely to be dissolved; those entering 3+ marriages are less likely to claim that being married is important to their happiness. Children brought into remarriage – disruption. Structural-functional view – institution of family affected by wider social changes. Men provide economic support, women provide personal care. These have eroded through economic uncertainty and demands for personal freedom. Now a matter of individual choice and satisfaction rather than social responsibility and a covenant before God. When marriage doesn’t meet personal fulfillment, readier to separate. Liberalization of divorce laws made easier. Daycare taken over some family functions. Undermines family’s role. Exchange perspective – considers the cost and benefits of divorce. Many costs = less likely chance for divorce (costs can be economic – drop in income; or social – stigma); costs are lower now because of law, greater acceptance, increased economic independence of each partner. Children reduces likelihood of divorce, and is a cost to the divorce (who wins custody). Feminists – traditional marriage supports unequal division of power. Freedom that comes with modern independence and opportunities and can leave abusive relationships. Symbolic-interaction theorists – patterns of interchange between partners; expectations of each other affect behaviour; no longer emphasis on finding security and an unhappy spouse can leave marriage. Table 10.2 – Elders More Likely Than Younger Canadians to Agree with Reasons to Divorce Gen-Xers Boomers Elders 50 15-29 30-49 and Over Total (%) (%) (%) (%) Fundamental Issues Abusive behaviour from the partner 95 95 94 95 Unfaithful behaviour from the partner 89 85 89 88 Lack of love and respect from the partner 86 87 87 88 Partner drinks too much 68 73 80 74 Experiential Issues Constant disagreement about how family finances 28 40 49 40 should be handled Unsatisfactory sexual relationship with partner 21 37 45 35 Unsatisfactory division of household tasks with partner 12 16 21 17 Conflict about how the children are raised 14 17 21 17 Fertility Issues Inability to have children with the partner 8 12 17 13 Disagreement about the number of children to have 3 6 11 7 Would stay for the children 44 39 52 43 THE ROAD TO DIVORCE Rarely sudden, takes place in several phases, both rational and emotional aspects. The Decision to Divorce Step 1: one or both come to realize that something is wrong with their marriage A period of denial often precedes this. John Gottman – “Divorce cascade”: a) increasing conflict; b) serious consideration of divorce; c) separation; d) divorce ~ the further along this sequence, the harder it is to avoid divorce. Not all couples go n the same route – can work out problems and have satisfying relationships. May delay separation until goal has been met (finished degree, children move out). Couple may emotionally withdraw. Time of great uncertainty and stress. Divorced co-parents not yet developed. Some ethnic groups/cultures emphasize family responsibilities over personal satisfaction. Planning the Breakup Step 2: couple must plan the breakup of the family system. Work cooperatively to settle issues of custody, visitation, and finances. Tell extended family, deal with their reactions. This phase does not run smoothly. Couples may separate and reconcile again, repeatedly. “Boundary ambiguity” – uncertainty about who belongs in the family and whether roles should be reorganized. Phase where reality of divorce will mean economically. Separation and Family Reorganization Step 3: Separation prior to divorce. If only one wants to separate, boundaries may be uncertain, leading to conflict – may be an attempt to punish, maintain contact with or get a rise from former partner. Needs to restructure family by separating marital and parental relationships; may be orderly, disorderly and marked by conflict. Work out new rules
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