Relationships: Overview


Marriage, divorce and sexuality

For over two centuries Parliament has been making and changing the laws concerning marriage, divorce and sexuality

The law of marriage

Laws concerning the marriage ceremony itself were radically changed in the early 19th century

Marriage: property and children

Parliament has made fundamental changes in the law relating to women's property and the treatment of children

Marriage: legitimacy and adoption

Important 20th century reforms addressed issues of legitimacy and introduced procedures for adoption

Obtaining a divorce

Legal reforms in the 19th century led to divorces being granted in court rather than by an Act of Parliament, as had previously been the case

Custody rights and domestic violence

In the 19th century changes to the law were made concerning a mother's right to custody of her children and to domestic violence

Changes in divorce: the 20th century

During the early 20th century new legislation made obtaining a divorce easier

Wedlock or deadlock

In the mid-20th century the grounds upon which a divorce could be granted were extended beyond adultery

Regulating sexual behaviour: the 19th century

Important laws for the regulation of sexual behaviour were made in the 1860s and 1880s

Regulating sex and sexuality: the 20th century

By the mid 20th century Parliament accepted a change in the public mood concerning laws relating to sexuality

Related information

Current parliamentary business on the topic of children and families

Also in this section

View the sequence of events and Acts of Parliament relating to the regulation of our relationships