Setting the Clock Forward Or Back? Covenant Marriage and the "Divorce Revolution"

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In 1997, Louisiana codified a new family form by becoming the first state to pass covenant marriage legislation. Soon after, Arizona and Arkansas followed suit. This act created two marriage types with substantially different marital and divorce provisions. In spring 1998, the authors conducted qualitative interviews with focus groups consisting of covenant married couples, feminist activists, and poor women living in public housing, examining their views on marriage and divorce trends, divorce consequences, and covenant marriage. All groups were concerned about the effects of divorce on children's well-being. Beyond that, the authors found little commonality in the discourse. Instead, they found major disagreements about whether family life is in decline and whether marriage law reinforcement will improve it. Covenant married couples and feminists polarized along familiar traditionalist-feminist axes; low-income women combined feminist, liberal, and conservative views in their understanding of contemporary family trends and the perceived necessity of covenant marriage.



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