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Lawmaking in the Shadow of the Empire: Divorce in Colonial Australia
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 11:47 authored by Finlay, HL
After the introduction of the English Divorce Act of 1857, the colonial secretary suggested to the Australian colonies that they should follow the English lead with similar legislation. No provision for divorce previously existed in Australia, and this article looks briefly at alternative expedients such as wife sale, bigamy, and unmarried cohabitation. It goes on to sketch the colonial parliamentary debates during the period from 1858 to 1873 leading to the enactment of laws based on the English Divorce Act. Opposition to divorce, based on religious and traditional moral attitudes, gave way in the end to consideration for the plight of deserted wives and children as the chief motivation for reform. In the process, a degree of legislative independence from the mother country also emerges from the debates.
Publication titleJournal of Family History
Department/SchoolFaculty of Law
PublisherSAGE Publications, Inc.
Place of publicationCanada