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Concepts of Fairness in Marriage and Divorce

  • rubytuesday
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07 Aug 15 #465149 by rubytuesday
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Professor Carrie Paechter of Goldsmiths, University of London has been looking at how people think about fairness, when they are married, and then when they are divorcing. Her research paper called "Concepts of Fairness in Marriage and Divorce" is now avaible to the public. (I have attached the paper to this post, and it can also be accessed here - research.gold.ac.uk/8842/)

Carrie asked the Wikivorce community for their thoughts and perception of what fairness is to help with her research; you can read those comments and an explanation of what the research is about in her blog - click here to access the blog

The description of the research paper is:

Discourses of fairness are bound up with Western ideals of companionate marriage. They are also central to the ways people talk about their approaches to divorce, especially in relation to the division of property and finances. How fairness is understood within marriage, however, is gendered, with husbands more likely to take equity-based and wives equality-based approaches. In this paper I discuss previous research on how fairness is understood within marriage, and compare this with data from a study of people going through divorce proceedings in England and Wales. I suggest that some, but not all, understandings about fairness are carried over from marriage into divorce, and note that in many ways English and Welsh divorce law supports a particular conception of fairness that redresses objectively unfair divisions of labour within the marital relationship.

Carrie is a long-standing Wikivorce member, although she usually posts under another name; she has previously carried out research into the crucial role of the online community Wikivorce provides in divorce case support; finding that an online community could provide vital support and advice for people representing themselves in divorce proceedings. Her paper is called "Online Learning in Divorce: the development and operation of an online learning community through a divorce support website". You can access more information about this particular research and the paper by clicking here

Concept of Fairness in Marriage and Divorce concludes with:

Conceptions of fairness in marriage and divorce are mutually illuminating. Understanding how fairness is conceptualised by husbands and wives within generally well-functioning relationships helps us to see how, despite a continuing discourse of fairness, property disputes in divorce can become so bitter. Conversely, an analysis of how divorcing couples understand what constitutes a fair divorce settlement gives us further insights into the implications of differential conceptions of what is fair during a marriage. Applying these to English and Welsh divorce law, we can also see how it both reflects the Western ideal of companionate marriage, rejecting earlier, contract-based conceptions, and serves to intervene and, to an extent, redress, the unequal power relations that pertain within that ideal.

The paper is incredibly interesting, and enlightening, and once again, Wikivorce thanks Professor Paechter for the considerable time and effort that she has put into her insightful report.

We would be very interested to hear what you think about the research paper, and the concept of fairness in marriage and divorce generally.

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