An extraordinary revolution in family relationships took place in Australia between 1857 and 1976. Marriage changed from an institution to be preserved at almost any cost to a union of equal partners, to be dissolved when it had irretrievably broken down. A millennium of legal, social and religious practice was swept away in less than 120 years. Gender relations were transformed.
Change, however, was not straightforward or consistent. The Commonwealth parliament did not act until 1959 and different reforms took place at different times in the Colonies and States.
In To Have But Not To Hold, Henry Finlay recounts the transformation through the eyes of parliamentarians. Fierce and varied debates take place in which all shades of opinion are represented. Marriage is sacred. Marriage is an economic union. Marriage is a social contract. Women are dependent. Women are equal. Fault must be punished. Indissoluble marriage preserves the family and the foundations of society. Indissoluble marriage destroys people’s lives.
This book, by a leading scholar in family law, breaks new ground in its account of a fundamental change which underpins modern Australia’s attitudes.
Foreword by The Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC
Part 1 Colonies and States
The Introduction of Divorce
Reception of Divorce in the Australian Colonies
South Australia: 1858
Western Australia: 1863
New South Wales: 1861-1873
Divorce Extension and the Waning of Colonial Rule: The More Populous States
New South Wales: 1873-1958
Divorce Extension: The Smaller States
South Australia: 1888-1941
Western Australia: 1897-1957
Part 2 Marital Relations in a Federation: 1901-1975
The Commonwealth Becomes Involved
The Matrimonial Causes Power
The Dobson Bill, A First Attempt: 1901
World War One, A Global Problem: 1919
World War Two – The Problem Grows: 1945
A Step Towards Uniformity: 1955
And another Step-The Joske Bill: 1957
The Commonwealth Takes Over
The Matrimonial Causes Debates: House of Representatives: 1959
The Matrimonial Causes Debates: The Senate: 1959
Marriage and the Constitution: 1962
A Matter of Family Law
The Family Law Debates: The Senate: 1973-1975
The Family Law Debates: House of Representatives: 1974-1975
Some Conclusions and a Forward Glimpse