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Against divorce? Revisiting the charge of the Casanova’s charter

Thompson, Sharon 2021. Against divorce? Revisiting the charge of the Casanova’s charter. Child and Family Law Quarterly
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Abstract

The article reassesses feminist challenges to the Divorce Reform Act 1969, and in particular Edith Summerskill’s notorious charge that divorce without consent represented a Casanova’s charter. It argues that Summerskill did not simply oppose divorce, but instead focused on giving voice to a demographic that was virtually invisible in Parliament at that time – deserted wives. The article reveals new accounts of backroom deals and underlying tensions behind the passage of the Divorce Reform Act 1969, based on a study of previously unexplored archival documents, interview data and letters Summerskill received from deserted wives. This close inspection of an individual’s role within a much larger network of reformers can help provide alternative historical understandings of family law reform from a feminist point of view. Furthermore, the article facilitates unique appraisal of the current legal landscape, as reform of the financial consequences of divorce is being considered following the new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. It is argued that Summerskill’s view can be used to determine the focus of future reform of this area.

Item Type: Article
Status: In Press
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: Jordan Publishing
ISSN: 1358-8184
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 April 2021
Date of Acceptance: 10 March 2021
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2021 06:52
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/140367

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