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Road to DivorceEngland 1530-1987$
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Lawrence Stone

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198226512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198226512.001.0001

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Epilogue: The Century of Divorce Law Reform, 1857–1987

Epilogue: The Century of Divorce Law Reform, 1857–1987

(p.383) XIII Epilogue: The Century of Divorce Law Reform, 1857–1987
Road to Divorce

Lawrence Stone

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the story of the divorce revolution from the first breach in the barrier in 1857 to the situation in 1987. As changing social mores came into conflict with resisting legislative conservatism and wavering religious beliefs, the end result churned out around 150,000 divorces a year by 1987. The discussion explores why divorce grew only very slowly after the Divorce Act of 1857, so that the numbers were still negligible in 1914. It also examines why, after 1914, and especially after 1960, there was an unprecedented growth in the number of divorces, accompanied by weakening moral controls over adultery by either sex.

Keywords:   divorce law reform, moral attitudes, 1937 Divorce Reform Act, 1969 Divorce Reform Act, divorce revolution, 1857 Divorce Act

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