7400.201 Courtship Marriage and the Family
Topic 17 - Separation
A great many Americans are
today about the numbers of
people divorcing and about the relative ease with which people
dissolve their marriages. A. During the years from 1860 to 1981, the
number of divorces per one
thousand people generally increased in the United States.
The rate rose significantly during World War II, peaked at the
conclusion of the war (1945-1947), and then began to decline. The
rate remained fairly stable during the 1950s and the early 1960s
and then increased rapidly again after 1965. By the mid
1970s, the United States had the highest divorce rate in the Western
world. After 1981, the rates tended to decline. By 1995,
they had gone down to 4.4 per one thousand people, a number lower
than any since the early 1970s.
In response to the increase in
divorces, states have changed divorce
laws. The changes reflect a different perspective on
divorce: an individual rather than a government-controlled
decision. In the 1970s, California and New York began the
trend toward no-fault divorce, which is now practiced in all
States. The purpose of no-fault divorce laws was to remove
some of the acrimony and pain from the process. In many cases,
this aim has been achieved, and proponents argue that no-fault laws
also make divorce a more equitable process. To many Americans,
however, no-fault divorce appears to make divorce too easy. Some
states have adopted covenant marriage, wherein the partners agree that
they will not divorce except for abuse or adultery.
high divorce rate in the U.S.
- Romantic notions about marriage and Love, coupled with
mate selections independently of others. High expectations from marriage
- Heterogamy of social characteristics - low social support
- More liberal divorce laws and customs - relaxed social
- Equalitarian social climate
- Economic instability in the society
Process - It is usually a process of
deterioration - "Surprise, I want a divorce!" situations rarely occur.
Most often, divorcing couples have ignored the maintenance of their
Process of Deterioration
Researchers have identified a
of features in the process
that are common to most divorcing couples. Not all
disaffected people divorce, and not all divorces
involve disaffection. When people do divorce, four phases
tend to mark the process:
- marriage gradually becomes less personally
- -testing the waters phase,- Asking the question "What if we
- -seeking outside counsel from friends.
- -rehabilitative reaction, "it's not so bad"
- -supportive reaction, "you will be fine" -opportunity
- -"come over, let's talk and have some wine."
- -withdrawal reaction, friends fear "catching" your
- seeking legal counsel
- Most parents will agree with divorce - Most friends will be
- Reconciliations - 50% of those who initiate separations
the marriage for some time - on again/off again type relationships. 90%
will reconcile after filing papers
- Amicable divorces are rare - most are highly angered at
Paul Bohannan discussed
terms of six “stations,” or
six different experiences that people are likely to have.
The emotional divorce involves a loss of trust, respect, and
affection for each other. The legal divorce is the only one
of the six stations that provides a tangible benefit to the
partners: relief from the legal responsibilities of the marriage and
the right to remarry. The economic divorce involves
settlement of the property. The co-parental divorce is
experienced by those with children: Decisions must be made about
who will have custody, visitation rights, and continuing parental
responsibility. The community divorce means that each of
the partners leaves one community of friends and relations and enters
another. Finally, the psychic divorce is the central separation
- 1. Recognition begins when one or both spouses
- 2. Discussion is the period during which one or both
begin to share the marital problems with others.
- 3. In the period of action, one of the spouses
in order to legally dissolve the marriage.
- 4. The post-dissolution period begins when both
the fact that the marriage has ended.
Reorientation - development
of the "single" self is
depending on the duration of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the
longer reorientation takes. Some factors are associated with the
of redefining oneself:
Patterns of Divorce - Not all
divorces follow the same pattern
- new surroundings are necessary
- knowing the first year is the toughest, stressful and
- resolution of stress through social participation -
- sexual permissiveness can increase and should be avoided
- a good job helps increase self-image.
- a. Enmeshed pattern: ambivalence on the part of both
are most likely to reconcile or remarry each other.
- b. Non-mutual pattern: one wants out, the other doesn't.
the most bitter, hard fought divorces.
- c. Disengaged pattern: both want out. Most likely to be
and more quickly resolved.
Incidence of Marital
Factors influencing the
- Annulment - legal termination of an invalid marriage.
have to have existed prior to the marriage:
- marriage under duress.
- Less that 3-4% of all marriages are annulled.
- Desertion - separation contrary to the will of one
2nd most frequent form of dissolution. This is a criminal offense, if
but is usually reported only when financial support is requested from
state, or if used as grounds for legal divorce. Usually males do the
- Legal separation - agreed to by both partners, it is the
to divorce. Persons may not marry again or have sexual contact with
during the separation period. Family debts and finances are the
of the couple during this time. A Separation Agreement is made -
draw up conditions for the separation regarding custody, visitation of
the noncustodial parent, injunctions, debts, and child support
- Divorce - The final Legal and Social Dissolution of
are not dissolved, only the legal marriage. Children, property,
ventures, any persons or property produced by marriage must be
legally, as spelled out in the Agreement. Rising from 246,000 divorces
in 1940 and leveling off to about 1.5 million a year in 1984. Divorce
- #Divorces per 1000 married women - allows interpretations of divorce
in view of population changes.
- age at marriage: the lower the age --> higher
age at 1st
is the single most influential factor Marriage after age 22 has no
relationship to divorce.
- length (duration) of marriage - usually two peaks: a
logic has it that the longer the marriage, the greater the opportunity
- level of education - homogamy of social characteristics
education - maybe degrees held. Greater discrepancy in education
probability of divorce. When education is INTERRUPTED, greater chance
- social class - highest divorce rate in the lower/working
Financial insecurity ----> marital instability, unhappiness and
Younger are less financially mature and more prone to romanticism.
- family-of-origin stability: higher risk of divorce if
because parental divorce --> early marriage --> divorce. All
these factors have a greater effect on women than men, women marry
early more often than men.
- Greater Social Acceptance of Divorce
- Changing Demands on Marriage and Family - fewer socially
marriages and that the marital relationship often acts to absorb social
from outside the marriage
- Dual-worker Marriages - little time for relationship
- Economic Changes - women now have more economic means,
dependent on the marriage for financial support.
- Fraudulent Marriage Agreements
- Discordant Relationships
- Disqualifying Relationships - one partner is blamed
- Collusion - a marriage is based on deviant terms -
drinking or seeing other women.
- Violent marriages
- Unrealistic Expectations and Evaluations
- Fading Romantic Interest
- Leftovers from prior Relationships
Divorce as Process - Not an
Event - Most
people find out by experience that divorce is a "process" - often
taking months (even years) - than a single event. Depending on the
degree of commitment to the marriage, and the length of marriage, the
process of total divorce may take as long to complete as the marriage
took to dissolve. Divorce only dissolves the legal marital
relationship, not the emotional, economic, parental, community,
or psychic relationships that have evolved.
Effects of Divorce
While social scientists once
that it was better for a couple
children to divorce rather than live unhappily with children observing
-- now most social scientists
agree that the most
outcome for children is to live with their parents - regardless of
the quality of the relationship of the parents to each other (barring
violence or neglect). There is some degree of emotional trauma
suffered by children of
parents, depending on the age of children at the time of divorce. In
cases, this is short term. There is also the loss of a confidant and
counselor that is the non-custodial parent. Generally - the
parent (dads in 90% of the cases) begins with prompt child support
and on time visitations, but gradually slacks off -- so that by the end
of the first year he is delinquent in both payments and visits.
- Emotional Effects - divorce is an emotional crisis
traumatized by divorce than are women. probably because marriage is a
less valued by men than by women. Still women are more likely to
a divorce, then suffer from loneliness, depression, and anxiety over
- Economic Effects - Despite the institutionalization of
laws in almost all states, women still bear the most financial loss. In
fact, women (with children in custody) suffer about a 50% reduction in
their standard of living, while men enjoy about a 70% increase in their
lifestyles after divorce - in states with community property laws and
- Social Effects Perhaps the greatest sadness of the "age of
is not the loneliness suffered by the casualties, but it is the effects
of divorce on children.
However the greatest threat to
is the loss of material
Children living with their mothers are likely to have had to move into
other neighborhoods, begin new school system careers, and make new
at a time when old habits would have offered more comfort. Loss of
wealth causes these emotional upsets. In fact, non-custodial fathers
do not pay almost 60% of the court awarded child support payments in
given year. This fact alone is sufficient to force many single parent
poverty, or just above the poverty line. One child in four (20%) our
lives below the government mandated poverty line (1 child in 3 if we
the poverty line + 25%) and the majority of these children are from
parent families headed by mothers. Contrary to conservative
beliefs, only 35% of these single mothers are members of any minority
When we look at our society and observe the social problems
us - drugs, runaway children, teenage prostitutes, and increasing crime
rates in many areas - it is clear that there is at least one glaring
of all of this.
If divorce results in 25% to 33%
children living in or near
poverty causes people to break the law to get over hard times .... and
law breakers get caught and go to jail ... then in a more or less
way - divorce is somewhat responsible for much of what we see as
in our society. Thinking about the SINGLE PARENT MOTHER - There are at
least four areas of crisis: a. responsibility overload b. task overload
c. emotional overload d. financial overload.
Factors Related to Divorce
A. Social scientists
have found that it is not just what people do that helps account
for the failure of a marriage, but also
certain sociodemographic factors.
sociodemographic factors are important, of course, because they
have a bearing on the way people interact.
- An inverse relationship exists between
socioeconomic status and divorce rates.
- The younger you are when you marry, the
greater your chances of divorce.
Americans are more likely both to separate and to divorce than are
Americans have higher rates of divorce than any other racial group in
the United States.
- Social integration is a state of relative harmony and
cohesion within a group. People who are
members of an integrated group have an important source of
a buffer against stress. Religious
groups provide one source of social
integration. Children can also be an
- Divorce has become more acceptable over time.
In the United
States, we have
“divorce culture” that is rooted in our individualism and insistence on
personal happiness. In addition, the
changing roles of women are associated
higher divorce rates.
There are both negative and
- Some of the complaints that surround
divorce are infidelity, personality conflicts, financial problems, lack of
communication, and conflict over roles.
- Some marriages are characterized by intense
- One of the possible reasons for the slow, non-conflicted
is changed perspectives. People change
throughout their lives.
- One of the consequences of divorce is
likely to be an increase in emotional problems. But not all problems are the result of
divorce; some exist prior
contribute to the deterioration of
Divorce can be a very painful
- Among the positive
outcomes of divorce include feeling worthwhile as a person, experiencing personal growth and maturity,
feelings of relief, and feelings of being
closer to one’s children.
- Problems with
physical and emotional health are common among people who are in the process of divorcing.
- Divorce is not
likely to be financially beneficial for men nor is it as financially detrimental to women as it once was.
- A divorce doesn’t
necessarily end interaction between former spouses.
of the interaction between ex-spouses varies considerably.
found four types of
relationships between ex-spouses: fiery foes,
associates, cooperative colleagues, and perfect pals.
Custody arrangements can be
painful for both the
parents and the children. Increasingly
in the twentieth century, mothers were granted custody under the
doctrine. After the mid-1960s, an increasing number of fathers won the
sole custody. Joint custody is another
option, in which both parents continue to share the responsibility for
and rearing of the children. Joint
custody arrangements seem to be more satisfying to both children and
- In the short term,
children are likely to suffer a variety of physical and emotional problems when their parents divorce: intense
anger, self-blame, fears about the future,
physical health problems, self-concept difficulty, more school
problems, and higher rates of drug use and
- In the long term,
there can be both detrimental and beneficial effects.
If some of the effects
positive, others are
neutral. Among the negative effects are
lower levels of psychological
well-being, more negative attitudes toward marriage, lower
of trust, and a higher risk of
premature mortality across the life span.
- Girls tend to
adjust more easily to divorce than do boys.
For children, coping with the
disruption of divorce
depends in part on the behavior of parents.
Children adjust better to the extent that the divorce reduces
conflict between the parents.
Divorced parents will help their children
adjust to the extent that they have a sense
of control over their child-rearing responsibilities.
If the parents adjust well to a divorce,
then they will help their children to