Dissolution, divorce and changing practices of commitment

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Recent Government plans to modernize divorce in England and Wales come hot on the heels of the introduction of same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, followed by the extension of civil partnerships to mixed sex couples. In this chapter we argue that developments with respect to how heterosexual relationships can be legally formalised and dissolved are entangled with developments in the legal recognition of same-sex couples. However, the nature of this entanglement, the social factors that have enabled it and its implications are so far generally unexplored, with the exception of a small number of studies. We explore recent and promised legal developments in divorce and dissolution via some of the key sociological investigations of heterosexual divorce , as well as the very small body of existing research on same-sex divorce. We discuss some of the broader social developments that are shaping married and partnership life, and specifically those that are influencing a convergence between heterosexual and same-sex couples’ practices for dissolving a legally sanctioned relationship. In doing so, we point towards how future studies can begin to answer the questions that the existing scholarship on divorce and dissolution raise.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTBC
EditorsDaniel Monk, Jo Miles
PublisherHart Publishing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Apr 2021


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