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Research - Public interest - Dept of health consultation Submission by FLINT

This is a submission to the Dept of health consultation on health issues which have been raised and where submissions are required by the 28th May 2004.
We are a non-Governmental social policy body called Family Links International since the health and family issues are mirrored throughout the western industrialised world. We would relate the health problems to the policies and agendas currently in practise in the UK and mirrored elsewhere in the Western industrialised world.
It is our sincere belief that Governmental policies and inaction have over the last thirty years led to this woeful situation of deteriorating health.
Our Government has pandered to the gender biased and partial research of the women’s and homosexual organisations at the expense of the family and heterosexuals.
We are highlighting many of these issues on our website:
There is abundant research material for food for thought in an administration of our society which is anti-family, anti-father and anti-heterosexual upon our website and some of the material is presented in this submission.
This submission to the dept of health is only a brief synopsis of the cause and problems the public face. Anti-heterosexual and anti-father hidden agendas have affected a whole generation. Teenage pregnancy, obesity through less fatherly input and physical activity along with fast foods and poor diet generally, greater criminality without the fatherly discipline of the past generations and lack of moral base to society, greater alcohol, drug and nicotine abuse in the young. This is further impacted by the failures of the health bodies and Government to be open, honest and to use impartial research in their decision making.
Public bodies further complicate matters by covering up mistakes and we would ask for a no fault complaint procedure to right wrongdoings without fear of litigation as most members of the public simply want the matter redressed without demanding compensation. This idea was mooted by Alan Milburn MP.
The first step for the Dept of Health is to redress the violations of the sexual discrimination Act and article 14 Human Rights Act and treat men on a par with women without giving advantages to either sex. Currently around 80% of NHS funding is spent on women’s issues. We have access to over 5000 cases of bias and wrong-doing by public bodies such as Social Services and CAFCASS and also primary Care Trusts, Local Education Authorities and mental health ‘experts.’ (See http://www.elc.org.uk).
If the health of the nation is to be improved the bias, failure to follow impartial research and the health of the heterosexual family must be placed as a priority. Below is a selection of the research on these issues, links may be found upon our website.

Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy
Adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 years reared in homes without fathers are significantly more likely to engage in premarital sex than adolescent females reared in homes with both a mother and a father.
--Source: Billy, John O. G., Karin L. Brewster and William R. Grady. "Contextual Effects on the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women." Journal of Marriage and Family 56(1994): 381-404.
A survey of 720 teenage girls found: 97% of the girls said that having parents they could talk to could help reduce teen pregnancy 93% said having loving parents reduced the risk 76% said that their fathers were very or somewhat influential on their decision to have sex
--Source: Clements, Mark. Parade. February 2, 1997.
Children in single parent families are more likely to get pregnant as teenagers than their peers who grow up with two parents.
--Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. Hyattsville, MD 1988.
A white teenage girl from an advantaged background is five times more likely to become a teen mother if she grows up in a single-mother household than if she grows up in a household with both biological parents.
--Source: Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. "Facing the Challenges of Fragmented Families." The Philanthropy Roundtable 9.1 (1995): 21.

A longitudinal study carried out on a cohort of teenagers and taking into account factors such as poverty, race and class shows clearly the link between fatherless-ness and teenage pregnancy.
Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk
for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?
Bruce J. Ellis
University of Canterbury, New Zealand
John E. Bates
Indiana University
Kenneth A. Dodge
Duke University
David M. Fergusson
Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand
L John Horwood
Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand
Gregory S. Pettit
Auburn University
Lianne Woodward
University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Child Development, in press
To be published in May/June issue, 2003

The impact of father absence on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy was investigated in longitudinal studies in the USA (N = 242) and New Zealand (N = 520), in which community samples of girls were followed prospectively throughout childhood. Greater exposure to father absence was strongly associated with elevated risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. This elevated risk was either not explained (in the USA study) or only partly explained (in the New Zealand study) by familial, ecological, and personal disadvantages associated with father absence. After controlling for covariates, there was stronger and more consistent evidence of effects of father absence on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy than on other behavioural or mental health problems or academic achievement. Effects of father absence are discussed in terms of life course adversity, evolutionary psychology, social learning, and behaviour genetic models.
Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?
In modern Western societies, adolescent girls face a biosocial dilemma. On the one hand, the biological capacity to reproduce ordinarily develops in early adolescence; on the other hand, girls who realize this capacity prior to adulthood often experience a variety of negative life outcomes. Specifically, adolescent childbearing is associated with lower educational and occupational attainment, more mental and physical health problems, inadequate social support networks for parenting, and increased risk of abuse and neglect for children born to teen mothers (e.g., Furstenberg, Brooks-Gunn, & Chase-Lansdale, 1989; Konner & Shostak, 1986; Woodward & Fergusson, 1999). Despite these consequences, the United States and New Zealand have the first and second highest rates of teenage pregnancy among Western industrialized countries: Approximately 10% of girls in the United States and 7% of girls in New Zealand between the ages of 15 and 19 years become pregnant each year, with around half of these pregnancies culminating in a live birth (Cheesbrough, Ingham, & Massey, 1999; Dickson, Sporle, Rimene, & Paul, 2000). Given these costs to adolescents and their children, it is critical to identify life experiences and pathways that place girls at increased risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy.
Many studies have identified the absence of the biological father from the home as a major risk factor for both early sexual activity (e.g., Day, 1992; Kiernan & Hobcraft, 1997; Newcomber & Udry, 1987) and teenage pregnancy (e.g., Hogan & Kitagawa, 1985; Geronimus & Korenman, 1992; McLanahan, 1999). This finding is consistent with lifecourse adversity models of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, which posit that a life history of familial and ecological stress provokes earlier onset of sexual activity and reproduction (e.g., Belsky, Steinberg, & Draper, 1991; Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 1998; Fergusson & Woodward, 2000a; Robbins, Kaplan, & Martin, 1985; Scaramella, Conger, Simons, & Whitbeck, 1998).
Lifecourse adversity models, however, do not attribute any special causal significance to father absence. Instead, these models conceptualize father absence as just one of many factors that can undermine the quality of family environments. According to lifecourse adversity models, it is not father absence per se but a variety of other stressors associated with father absence (e.g., divorce, poverty, conflictual family relationships, erosion of parental monitoring and control) that foster early sexual activity and pregnancy in daughters (see Belsky, et al., 1991, p. 658; Chisholm, 1999, p. 162; McLanahan, 1999, p. 119; Robbins et al., 1985, p. 568; Silverstein & Auerbach, 1999, p. 403).
In addition to the effects of lifecourse adversity, underlying personality traits may account for the relation between father absence and early sexual outcomes in daughters. Specifically, certain personality traits that predispose girls toward early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy may covary with father absence. Differences between children in externalizing behavior problems–those behaviors considered to be aggressive, disruptive, or oppositional–derive in part from individual differences in temperamental characteristics such as negative emotionality and resistance to control (Bates, Pettit, Dodge, & Ridge, 1998; Rothbart & Bates, 1998).
Children who display externalizing behavioral problems early in life are at elevated risk for a variety of negative psychosocial outcomes in adolescence, including early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy (e.g., Bardone, Moffitt, Caspi, Dickson, & Silva, 1996; Quinton, Pickles, Maughan, & Rutter, 1993; Woodward & Fergusson, 1999). Moreover, individuals who have a history of externalizing disorders are not only at increased risk of becoming single parents or absent parents (e.g., Emery, Waldron, Kitzmann, & Aaron, 1999; Sampson & Laub, 1990) but also may transmit a genetic disposition toward externalizing behavioural problems and associated personality characteristics to their children (Rhee & Waldman, 2002; personality characteristics associated with both sexual risk-taking and other forms of delinquent behaviour in adolescence are discussed in Kotchick, Shaffer, Forehand, & Miller, 2001).
Thus, girls from father-absent homes may be at elevated risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy because of higher genetic loading for externalizing behaviour problems.
In contrast to the life course adversity and personality trait models, evolutionary models suggest that early onset of father absence places daughters at special risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Specifically, evolutionary psychologists have hypothesized that the developmental pathways underlying variation in daughters’ reproductive strategies are especially sensitive to the father’s role in the family and mothers’ sexual attitudes and behaviour in early childhood (Draper & Harpending, 1982, 1988; see also Ellis, McFadyen-Ketchum, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 1999).
Consistent with Hetherington’s (1972) work on the effects of early father absence on personality development in adolescent daughters, the evolutionary model suggests that girls detect and internally encode information about parental reproductive strategies during approximately the first five years of life as a basis for calibrating the development of motivational systems, which will make certain types of sexual behaviour more or less likely in adolescence. The model thus posits a direct effect of quality of early paternal investment (e.g., father presence vs. absence, quality of paternal care-giving, father-mother relationships) on early onset of sexual and reproductive behaviour.
Goals of the Current Research
In light of these theoretical considerations, the current research examined the following set of questions:
1. Is earlier onset of biological father absence associated with increasing risk of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy in daughters?
Despite voluminous research on father absence, very few studies have examined the relation between timing of onset of father absence and daughters’ sexual outcomes. In a small observational study, Hetherington (1972) found that adolescent girls from early father-absent homes (divorced before age 5) tended to initiate more contact with, and seek more attention from, adult males than did girls from late father-absent homes (divorced after age 5). In a large retrospective survey, however, McLanahan (1999) did not find statistically significant relations between timing of onset of father absence and rates of teenage childbearing in daughters. The current research is the first to prospectively measure timing of onset of father absence throughout early and middle childhood and then test for its effects on early sexual activity and pregnancy in adolescence.
2. Does earlier onset of biological father absence uniquely increase risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy in daughters, independent of both early externalizing behavior problems and familial and ecological stressors that covary with father absence? That is, does more exposure to father absence place daughters at special risk for early sexual outcomes–regardless of whether girls are rich or poor, black or white, cooperative or defiant in kindergarten, born to teenage or adult mothers, grow up in violent or safe neighborhoods, experience many or few stressful life events, have warm-supportive or harsh-rejecting parents, are exposed to functional or dysfunctional marriages, are closely or loosely monitored by parents, and so forth?
A number of studies have found that father absence uniquely predicts early sexual activity (Day, 1992; Devine, Long, & Forehand, 1993; Miller et al., 1997; Upchurch, Aneshensel, Sucoff, & Levy-Storms, 1999) and adolescent pregnancy or childbearing (Hogan & Kitigawa, 1985; Robbins et al., 1985), after controlling for such confounding variables as race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood danger, and parental monitoring and control. All of these studies, however, began when daughters were already in early to late adolescence and thus were unable to assess familial and ecological stressors prior to daughters’ risk for involvement in sexual activity. The current research is the first to prospectively assess lifecourse adversity throughout early and middle childhood, and then control for its effects when testing for the relation between timing of father absence and rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy.
3. Does earlier onset of biological father absence discriminantly increase risk for early onset of sexual activity and teenage pregnancy–but not for adolescent behavioral and mental health problems more generally –independent of early externalizing problems and lifecourse adversity? In other words, is greater exposure to father absence a general risk factor for the development of psychopathology, or is it specific to sexual development?
To our knowledge, only Newcomer and Udry (1987) have explicitly addressed this question. In a short-term longitudinal study of white adolescents, Newcomer and Udry found that the effect of father absence on a composite measure of age-graded minor delinquencies (e.g., smoking, drinking alcohol, cheating on a test) was statistically significant and about equal in magnitude to the effect of father absence on onset of first sexual intercourse in girls. Newcomber and Udry, however, did not control for potentially confounding third variables (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, mother’s age at first birth) that could account for the correlation between father absence and delinquency. The current research examined the unique effects of timing of father absence on a variety of psychosocial and educational outcomes, after controlling for the effects of child conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors during childhood.
This set of questions was investigated in two independent longitudinal studies in the United States and New Zealand. In the American study, a community sample of girls was followed prospectively from the summer prior to kindergarten through to the 12th grade. In the New Zealand study, a birth cohort of girls was followed prospectively from infancy through to age 18.
Method: United States
Participants and Overview
The United States data were collected as part of the ongoing Child Development Project, a multi-site longitudinal study of socialization factors in children's and adolescents' adjustment (see Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1990; Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1997). Participating families were initially recruited from three geographical areas (Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee, and Bloomington, Indiana). At the time of kindergarten pre-registration in the Summers of 1987 (cohort 1) and 1988 (cohort 2), parents of matriculating children were solicited at random (in person at the child's school or by mail) to become involved in the study. About 75% agreed. A total of 585 families agreed to participate in the study. Of these 585 families, 281 of the children were girls. The analyses reported in this article are based on this female subsample, which was demographically diverse and representative of the geographic regions (81% white, 17% African-American, 2% other; 28% lived with a single mother at the beginning of the study). The Hollingshead (1975) Four-Factor Index of Social Status was computed from demographic information provided by the parents of the girls. The mean family score on the index at the beginning of the study was 38.85 (SD = 14.0), indicating a predominantly middle class sample. Data on girls’ early externalizing behavioral problems and on familial and ecological stressors were collected in Years 1-9 of the study (ages 5-13). Data on adolescent sexual activity, pregnancy, internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems, academic performance, and violence were collected in Years 10-13 of the study (ages 14-17). At the completion of the study in Year 13, the average age of the girls was 17.3 years (SD = .34). Of the original 281 girls, 242 (86%) participated in the Years 10-13 data collections. This subset was generally representative of the original sample (16% African-American; 25% from single-mother homes; mean SES = 39.45; ). Other analyses have shown that attrition has not significantly biased the sample on either initial child adjustment or family socialization variables (see Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1997; Pettit, Bates, Dodge, & Meece, 1999). Nonetheless, there was a slight but statistically non-significant trend for the 242 girls in the current analyses to under-represent girls from socially disadvantaged backgrounds (low SES, African-American, single-mother homes.
Following recruitment, mothers were interviewed at home in the summer prior to daughters' entry into kindergarten (see Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 1994), when most children were 5 years of age. The 90-min audiorecorded interview included both open-ended and structured questions about each of two eras in the child's life (a period from 12 months of age up to 12 months ago and the past 12 months). Questions concerned the child's development and childcare history, family stressors, parental behavior, exposure to socializing factors, and current functioning. Reliability was assessed through independent ratings of 41 randomly selected families made by a second coder who sat in with the interviewer. Additional home interviews with the mothers were conducted in Years 7 and 9 of the study (when daughters were approximately ages 11 and 13). Questions concerned family changes and adjustment, child’s involvement in after-school care settings, parenting practices, and neighborhood characteristics over the past year.
In addition, mothers annually completed child behavior-problem questionnaires and provided family demographic data. Behavior-problem questionnaires were also completed by daughters in Years 11-13 of the study (app. ages 15-17). Daughters answered questions about sexual behavior and pregnancy at this time. Also at this time, research staff requested permission to view the participants’ academic records.
Timing of Onset of Father Absence
To determine timing of onset of father absence, household composition data were collected during Years 1-9 of the study (ages 5-13). Because Hetherington (1972) and Draper and Harpending (1982) suggest that the first five years of life constitute a sensitive period for the effects of father absence on daughters’ sexual development, early onset of father absence was defined in this study as absence of the “birth father” (either the biological father or an adoptive father present from birth) from the home at or before age 5. This cut-off was also chosen to allow comparison with past studies, which have commonly defined early father absence as occurring in the first five years (e.g., Bereczkei & Csanaky, 1996; Blain & Barkow, 1988; Hetherington, 1972).
Girls were thus classified as early father-absent if they were either born into single-mother families or born into intact two-parent families but subsequently experienced birth father absence at or before age 5. Late onset of father absence was defined as birth father presence in the home through age 5, but subsequent absence of the birth father from the home beginning sometime during ages 6-13. We chose age 13 as the cut-off for late father absence in order to complete measurement of father absence prior to the onset of first pregnancy in daughters. Father presence was defined as birth father presence in the home through age 13. Classification of girls into the father present/absent groups was based solely on birth father status and did not take stepfathers into account (33% = early father-absent; 12% = late father-absent; 55% = father-present).
Adolescent Sexual Outcomes
Early sexual activity. In Year 12 (age 16), girls were asked whether they had ever had sexual intercourse. Girls who responded “No” were coded as “0” for early sexual activity (60%); girls who responded “Yes” were coded as “1” for early sexual activity (40%). The age 16 cut-off has been commonly used in past studies to demarcate “early” onset of sexual activity (e.g., Fergusson & Woodward, 2000b; Kiernan & Hobcraft, 1997; Paul, Fitzjohn, Herbison, & Dickson, 2000).
Adolescent pregnancy. In Years 10-13 (ages 14-17), girls were asked annually whether they had become pregnant in the last year. Girls who reported no pregnancies over this time period were coded as “0” for adolescent pregnancy (85%); girls who reported at least one pregnancy over this time period were coded as “1” for adolescent pregnancy (15%).
Covariate Factors
To assess the extent to which associations between timing of father absence and adolescent sexual outcomes could be explained by the effects of early externalizing problems and familial and ecological stressors, the following 10 variables were included as covariates in the analysis. The measures of familial and ecological stress were chosen as covariates on the basis of past research indicating (a) covariation with father absence and (b) prediction to early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy (see reviews by Kotchick et al., 2001; Miller, Benson, & Galbraith, 2001). The covariates were measured repeatedly and prospectively from the beginning of each study through to age 13.
Externalizing behavior problems (early childhood). During Years 1-2 of the study (ages 5-6), mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 1991). The 33-item externalizing problems score, which has been reported to have excellent psychometric properties (Achenbach, 1991), was used to index daughters’ early externalizing problems. A composite externalizing behavioral problems score was computed by averaging over Years 1 and 2 (? = .81; M = 10.63; SD = 6.47).
Mother’s age at first birth. Mothers reported how old they were when they first gave birth to a child (M = 23.23; SD = 4.82).
Race. Race coded as a dummy variable: 0 = Caucasian (83%); 1 = non-Caucasian (17%). Of the 42 non-Caucasian participants, 38 were African-American.
Socioeconomic status. SES was computed on the basis of mothers' and fathers' occupation and years of education (Hollingshead, 1975; full description in Dodge et al., 1994). Because the rank-ordering of SES between families was highly stable over time, a composite childhood SES score was computed by averaging SES scores from Year 1 (age 5) and Year 9 (age 13) (?= .84; M = 38.11; SD = 12.78).
Family life stress (early childhood). Family life stress was assessed during the Year 1 interview on the basis of questions concerning changes and adjustments in the home and their perceived impact on the child during each era (see Dodge et al., 1994). Interviewers completed ratings of the extent of stressful, challenging events faced by the child and family (1 = "minimum challenge," 5 = "severe frequent challenges"). The rating from the two eras were averaged to yield a score for family life stressors (? = .64; proportion agreement between independent raters of the same protocol = .79; M = 3.04, SD = .94).
Dyadic adjustment (early childhood). During the Year 1 interview, mothers were asked to recall each era and answer questions concerning the kinds of family strife and violence the child was exposed to (see Ellis et al., 1999). Interviewers then completed ratings of the severity of conflict within the parental dyad (1 = "rarely even shout," 5 = "physical fights, more than once"). The rating from the two eras were averaged to yield an overall score (? = .74; interrater agreement = .80; M = 2.19, SD = 1.03). Mothers were also asked questions concerning levels of help and emotional support from their partners during each era (see Ellis et al., 1999). Interviewers then completed ratings of level of supportiveness in the parental dyad, and the ratings from the two eras were averaged to yield an overall score (? = .88; interrater agreement = .86; M = 2.37, SD = .57). A composite measure of dyadic adjustment was computed by standardizing and then averaging the measures of “severity of conflict within the parental dyad” (reverse-scored) and “supportiveness in the parental dyad” (? across the two measures = .55).
Harshness of discipline (early childhood). During the Year 1 interview, mothers were asked about their use of discipline practices and whether the child had ever been harmed by an adult during each era (see Dodge et al., 1994). Interviewers then completed ratings of the degree of restrictive discipline received by the child (1 = "nonrestrictive, mostly prosocial guidance," 5 = "severe, strict, often physical") and whether the target child had been severely harmed (1 = "definitely not," 5 = "authorities involved"). These four ratings (two ratings for each of two life eras) were averaged to derive the early childhood harshness of discipline score (? = .81; interrater agreement = .78; M = 2.05, SD = .67).
Harshness of discipline (pre-adolescence). Harshness of discipline was also assessed during the Years 7 and 9 interviews. Using a 4-point scale (1 = never; 4 = frequently), mothers rated how often they used each of 6 harsh disciplinary tactics (e.g., "scold," "slap or hit with hand," "use belt/paddle"). A composite harshness of discipline measure was computed by averaging the Year 7 (? = .67) and Year 9 (? = .67) measures (? across the 2 measures = .77; M = 2.06; SD = .42).
Parental monitoring (pre-adolescence). Parental monitoring was assessed during the Years 7 and 9 home interviews with the mothers. Although the two measures had slightly different content, both employed 5-point frequency scales and focused on parents’ awareness of their children’s activities and companions. A composite measure of parental monitoring was computed by standardizing and then averaging the Year 7 (? = .73; M = 4.65, SD = .34; see Pettit et al., 1999) and Year 9 (? = .67; M = 4.32, SD = .45; see Pettit, Laird, Dodge, Bates, & Criss, 2001) measures (? across the two measures = .66).
Neighborhood danger (pre-adolescence). Neighborhood danger was assessed during the Years 7 and 9 home interviews with the mother. During the Year 7 interview, mothers responded to a set of 6 items (adapted from the Self-Care Checklist; see Posner & Vandell, 1994) describing their general appraisal of neighborhood and family safety. Items were rated on a 6-point scale (very safe to very unsafe) and averaged to form an overall neighborhood safety score (? = .90; M = 2.01, SD = .86). In addition, immediately following the Year 7 and Year 9 interviews, the interviewer completed a 4-point rating of overall neighborhood safety (very safe to very unsafe; Ms = 1.82 [SD = .85] and 1.71 [SD = .77], respectively). A composite measure of neighborhood danger was computed by standardizing and then averaging the mother-report and two interviewer-report measures (? across the 3 measures = .78).
Measures of Psychosocial Adjustment and Educational Achievement (Adolescence)
To assess the extent to which timing of father absence discriminantly predicted early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy (but not other behavioral and mental health problems), the following educational and psychosocial outcome variables were investigated. These outcomes were measured concurrently with assessment of timing of sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy from ages 14 to 18.
High school grade-point average (GPA). Data on high school GPA were drawn from archival school records (grades 9-11). Staff members examined each child’s file and noted the grades earned in math, language, science, and social studies. Conventional grade conversions were used (i.e., A = 4, B =3, C = 2, D = 1, E = 0). A composite GPA was calculated for each child by averaging the grades received across the four subjects across the three years (? = .89; M = 2.50, SD = .96).
Violent acts (adolescence). Data on violent acts were collected in Years 12 and 13 (app. ages 16-17). Girls in each year reported how often they had performed each of 7 violent acts in the last 12 months (e.g., "How many times have you been physically cruel to someone else [causing harm]?" "How many times have you started a fight with someone else, where you hurt that person?" "How many times have you used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others [like a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, or gun]?"). Girls who reported no violent acts in either year were coded as “0” for violent acts (76%); girls who reported at least one violent act in either year were coded as “1” for violent acts (24%).
Externalizing behavior problems (adolescence). Self-report and mother-reports of externalizing behavior problems were assessed in Years 11-13 (ages 15-17) using the Youth Self-Report (YSR) and Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), respectively (Achenbach, 1991). The highly reliable externalizing problems score (30 and 33 items in the YSR and CBCL, respectively) was used to index daughters’ adolescent externalizing problems. A composite self-report externalizing behavioral problems score was computed by averaging self-reports over Years 11-13 (? across the three scores = .87; M = 10.72; SD = 6.29) and a composite mother-report externalizing behavioral problems score was computed by averaging mother-reports over Years 11-13 (? across the three scores = .90; M = 7.91; SD = 7.39). The composite self-report and mother-report externalizing scores were moderately correlated, r (241) = .52, p < .001. To facilitate comparison with rates of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, both self- and mother-reports of both externalizing behavior problems were dichotomized (bottom 85% = 0; top 15% = 1).
Internalizing behavior problems (adolescence). Self-report and mother-reports of internalizing behavior problems–those behaviors considered to be anxious, withdrawn, or depressed–were also assessed in Years 11-13 using the YSR and CBCL (Achenbach, 1991). The highly reliable internalizing problems score (32 items in both the YSR and CBCL) was used to index daughters’ adolescent internalizing problems. A composite self-report internalizing behavioral problems score was computed by averaging self-reports over Years 11-13 (? across the three scores = .86; M = 11.39; SD = 7.40) and a composite mother-report internalizing behavioral problems score was computed by averaging mother-reports over Years 11-13 (? across the three scores = .84; M = 7.18; SD = 5.98). The composite self-report and mother-report internalizing scores were moderately correlated, r (241) = .46, p < .001. Again, to facilitate comparison with rates of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, both self- and mother-reports of both internalizing behavior problems were dichotomized (bottom 85% = 0; top 15% = 1).
Method: New Zealand
Participants and Overview
The New Zealand data were collected as part of the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS). The CHDS is an ongoing longitudinal study of an unselected birth cohort of 1,265 children (635 males, 630 females) born in the Christchurch (New Zealand) urban region during a four month period in mid-1977 (Fergusson & Horwood, 2001; Fergusson, Horwood, Shannon, & Lawton, 1989). The current research is based on this female subsample, which was demographically diverse and representative of the geographic region (13% Maori/Polynesian, 25% father unemployed or in low skill occupation, 8% living with a single mother at birth). The girls and their families have been studied at birth, 4 months, 1 year, and at annual intervals to age 16 years, and again at ages 18 and 21 years. In the vast majority of cases (typically > 95%) follow-up assessments have been conducted within 4 weeks of the sample member’s birthday. Data have been collected from a combination of sources including: parental interviews (birth-16 years); self-report (8-21 years); psychometric testing (8-13 years); teacher reports (6-13 years); medical records (birth-21 years) and Police records (13-21 years). In general terms the aims of the study have been to build up a running record of the life history, social circumstances, health, and development of a large cohort of New Zealand children growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, the study has gathered a wealth of information on family composition, social and family functioning in childhood, and psychosocial outcomes in adolescence.
The present analyses are based on the sample of 520 female cohort members for whom information on the timing of father absence and adolescent outcome measures was available. This sample represented 83% of the original cohort of 630 females and was generally representative of the original sample (13% Maori/Polynesian, 23% father unemployed or in low skill occupation, and 7% living with a single mother at birth). Comparison of the analysis sample of 520 females with the remaining 110 sample members from the original female cohort on a range of socio-demographic measures collected at birth suggested very slight but statistically significant (p<.05) tendencies for the analysis sample to under-represent girls from socially disadvantaged backgrounds (low paternal occupational status, low maternal education). This raises the issue of the extent to which study findings could be influenced by the effects of sample selection bias. To examine this issue, all analysis were repeated using the data weighting method described by Carlin, Wolfe, Coffey, and Patton (1999) to adjust for possible selection effects resulting from the pattern of sample attrition. These analyses produced essentially identical results to those based on the unweighted data, suggesting that the small biases detected in the sample are unlikely to affect study conclusions. Since the two sets of results were mutually consistent, in the interests of simplicity, the results reported here are based on the unweighted sample data.
Timing of Onset of Father Absence
Comprehensive data were gathered on family composition at annual intervals to age 13 years, including information on the relationship between the daughter and any adult males in the home. Classification of girls into the three father absent/present groups (early father-absent, late father-absent, and father-present) was based on the same coding procedures used in the USA sample (16% = early father-absent; 11% = late father-absent; 73% = father-present).
Adolescent Sexual Outcomes
Early sexual activity. At each assessment from age 14-16 years, sample members were questioned concerning their sexual behavior, including their experience of consensual sexual intercourse since the previous assessment. At age 18 sample members were again questioned concerning their previous experience of sexual intercourse, and those who reported such experience were asked to report their age at first experience of consensual intercourse. Young women were classified as having engaged in early sexual activity if they had ever reported involvement in consensual sexual intercourse prior to age 16 years. Overall, 33% of the sample reported early sexual activity.
Adolescent pregnancy. At age 14 years, the mothers of female sample members were asked whether their daughter had ever been pregnant. From age 15 onwards, sample members themselves were questioned about any pregnancies since the previous assessment and, in particular, the timing and outcome of these pregnancies. Young women were classified as having an adolescent pregnancy if they had ever been reported as being pregnant prior to age 18 years. Overall, 8% of young women had been pregnant before age 18.
Covariate Factors
To assess the extent to which associations between timing of father absence and adolescent sexual outcomes could be explained by the effects of child conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors, we included the following 10 variables as covariates in the analysis.
Early conduct problems (6 years). When sample members were aged 6 years, maternal and teacher reports of the child’s tendencies to conduct disordered and oppositional behaviors were obtained using the 9-item mother- and teacher-report versions of the Rutter Behavior Rating Scale (Rutter, Tizard, & Whitmore, 1970). For the purposes of the present analysis the maternal and teacher reports were summed to produce an overall scale measure reflecting the extent to which the child was reported to be exhibiting conduct problems at age 6 years (? = .83; M = 20.44; SD = 3.21).
Maternal age at first childbirth. The mother’s age at first childbirth was assessed during the initial parental interview at the time of the survey child’s birth. The mean age at first childbirth was 23.7 years (SD = 4.2).
Race. The sample member’s ethnicity was coded as a dummy variable: 0 = European New Zealander (87%); 1 = Maori/Polynesian (13%).
Maternal education. The mother’s education level was assessed at the time of the survey child’s birth and coded into a three level classification: no formal educational qualifications (50.0% of the sample); high school qualifications (28.3%); post-secondary certificate or degree (21.7%). Higher scores indicated higher levels of educational achievement.
Father’s occupational status. Father’s occupational status was classified at the time of the survey child’s birth using the Elley-Irving (1976) scale of occupational status for New Zealand. This scale classifies families into six groups on the basis of paternal occupation. In the present analysis, the Elley-Irving coding was reduced to a 3-level classification as follows: Levels 1, 2 (professional, managerial: 22.5% of the sample); Levels 3, 4 (clerical, technical, skilled: 54.4%); Levels 5, 6 (semiskilled, unskilled, unemployed: 23.1%). This variable was reverse-scored, so that higher scores represent higher occupational status.
Family living standards (0-10 years). At each assessment from age 1-10 years, a measure of the quality of the family’s standard of living was obtained on the basis of an interviewer rating of family living standards. Ratings were made on a 5-point scale (1 = family obviously poor/very poor ; 5 = family obviously affluent and well-to-do). These ratings were averaged over the 10 year period to provide an overall measure of the quality of family living standards during this period (??across the 10 ratings = .92; M = 2.16; SD = .45).
Family life stress (0-10 years). At each assessment up to age 10 years, parents were questioned about the occurrence of adverse family life events during the preceding year using a 20-item life events inventory based on the Holmes and Rahe (1967) Social Readjustment Rating Scale. For each year, a life events score was calculated for the family based on a count of the number of adverse events reported. To provide an overall measure of the family’s exposure to adverse life stress over the period from birth to 10 years, the annual life events scores were summed over the 10 year period (??across the 10 ratings = .80; mean number of adverse life events = 20.80; SD = 12.22).
Marital conflict (0-10 years). Parents were questioned at annual intervals to age 10 years using three items that described the quality of the marital relationship over the previous 12 months. For each item, a count of the number of positive reports over the 10 year period was calculated, and the resulting count measures were combined to produce a scale measure of the extent to which sample members were exposed to parental conflict in the period from birth to age 10 years (Fergusson, Horwood, & Lynskey, 1992) (??= .66; M = 4.24; SD = 8.98).
Early mother-child interaction (3 years). To provide an assessment of the quality of early mother-child interactions, when sample members were aged 3 years, mothers were assessed on the 10-item maternal emotional responsiveness and 5-item maternal punitiveness subscales of the HOME (Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment) Inventory (Bradley & Caldwell, 1977; Elardo & Bradley, 1977). Each item is scored 0 or 1 to indicate the absence or presence of the target behavior. The emotional responsiveness scale provides an index of the frequency with which the mother makes positive emotional responses to her child and was scored so that a high score indicates more positive responses (?? = .69; M = 8.44; SD = 1.41). The punitiveness scale provides an index of the frequency with the which the mother is observed to make punitive responses to her child’s behavior and was scored so that a high score implies more punitive responses (?? = .71; M = .82; SD = .80).
Measures of Psychosocial Adjustment and Educational Achievement (14-18 years)
At ages 15 and 16 years, sample members were interviewed by trained survey interviewers on a comprehensive mental health interview that examined various aspects of the young person’s psychosocial adjustment over the preceding 12 months. A parallel interview was administered to parents. At age 18 years a similar interview was administered to sample members that assessed the individual’s mental health, psychosocial adjustment, and educational achievement over the period from 16-18 years. Using this information, the following additional outcome measures were constructed.
School qualifications. School Certificate is a national series of examinations that is undertaken by the vast majority of New Zealand students in their third year of high school. Students may sit examinations in any number of subjects (typically 4 or 5), and performance in each subject is graded from A to E, with a grade of C or better implying a ‘pass’ in that subject. For the purposes of the present analysis a young woman was classified as having left school without qualifications if she had left school by age 18 years without at least one pass grade in School Certificate: 16.5% of the sample met this criterion.
Mood disorder. At ages 15 and 16 years information on the young person’s experience of depressive symptomatology was obtained using items from the child and parent versions of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (Costello, Edelbrock, Kalas, Kessler, & Klaric, 1982). This information was used to classify young people according to DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association, 1987) symptom criteria for major depression (Fergusson, Horwood, & Lynskey, 1993). At age 18 years, the assessment of depressive symptomatology was based on DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria for major depression assessed using items from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI, World Health Organization, 1993). For the purposes of the present analysis, young women were classified as having a mood disorder over the period 14-18 years if they met the relevant DSM criteria for major depression on the basis of self- or parent-report at any time during the four year period: 37.3% of the sample met this criterion.
Anxiety disorder. Parallel to the assessment of major depression, at ages 15 and 16 sample members and their parents were also questioned about the young person’s history of anxiety symptomatology in the previous 12 months using items from the DISC. This information was used to classify young people on DSM-III-R criteria for the following anxiety disorders: separation anxiety; overanxious disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; social phobia; simple phobia; agoraphobia; and panic disorder. As part of the age 18 interview, items from the CIDI were used to assess DSM-IV symptom criteria for the following anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety disorder; social phobia; specific phobia; agoraphobia; and panic disorder. For the purposes of the present analysis, young women were classified as having an anxiety disorder if they met DSM criteria for any of the above disorders over the four year period: 44.6% of the sample met this criterion.
Suicide attempts. At ages 15, 16, and 18 years, sample members were questioned about their experience of suicidal thoughts since the previous assessment. Those reporting suicidal thoughts were further questioned about any suicide attempts and the frequency, nature and outcome of any such attempt(s). Overall, 7.1% of the sample reported making at least one suicide attempt during the four year period. All respondents who reported suicidal behavior and/or other mental health problems were offered assistance in obtaining a referral to an appropriate treatment service.
Violent offending. At ages 15 and 16 years the young person’s involvement in criminal offending over the previous year was assessed using the Self Report Early Delinquency inventory (SRED, Moffitt & Silva, 1988). Similar questioning was conducted at age 18 using the Self Report Delinquency Inventory (SRDI, Elliott & Huizinga, 1989). Using these data, young women were classified as being violent offenders if they reported committing any violent offence (including physical assault, getting into fights, using a weapon or strong arm tactics to commit a robbery, threatening behavior and related offenses) over the four year period: 13.7% of the sample reported committing a violent offence.
Conduct disorder. At ages 15 and 16 years, sample members were assessed on DSM-III-R symptom criteria for conduct disorder based on self and parent reports on the SRED (Fergusson et al., 1993). At age 18 DSM-IV criteria for conduct disorder were derived from items in the SRDI. Young women were classified as conduct disordered if they met DSM criteria for conduct disorder on the basis of self or parental report at any time during the four year period: 7.5% of the sample met this criterion.
Results - Statistical Analyses
As described above, there were a total of 16 dependent variables (DVs) to be analysed: early sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, and 6 other measures of psychosocial adjustment and educational achievement in each of the two samples. With one exception (GPA in the USA sample) all outcomes were dichotomous. Analysis of the associations between father absence and the DVs was conducted in several stages.
Prior to conducting the primary data analysis, preliminary analyses were carried out to test the linearity of the associations between the 3-level timing of onset of father absence measure and the DVs. For the 15 dichotomous DVs, these tests were conducted using the Mantel-Haenszel Chi-square test of linearity. Comparison of the Mantel-Haenszel results with the alternative Pearson’s Chi-square test of independence showed that, in all cases, the linear model appeared to provide the best fitting and most parsimonious representation of the association. For the measure of GPA, similar tests of linearity were conducted within an analysis of variance framework. These tests also suggested that a linear model most accurately represented the association. We thus concluded that the relations between timing of onset of father absence and all outcome measures were essentially linear. In all subsequent analyses, therefore, father absence was treated as a continuous (linear) variable, which was coded so that higher scores indicated earlier onset of father absence (0= father presence, 1= late onset of father absence, 2= early onset of father absence).
Treating father absence in this manner is conceptually similar to analyzing age at onset of father absence. Although age at onset might be a more appropriate metric for analysis, detailed information on this variable was available only in the New Zealand sample. Thus, for consistency we have used the same 3-level classification of timing of onset of father absence across the two samples. However, further analysis of the NZ data indicated that age at onset of father absence correlated in excess of .97 with the current 3-level measure. This suggests that similar conclusions would be drawn if more accurate assessments of the timing of father absence were available in both samples.
The principal data analyses were based on a series of regression analyses examining the relations between the timing of father absence and the 16 DVs before and after adjustment for child, family, and ecological factors. For binary DVs these analyses were conducted using logistic regression methods in which the log odds of the DV was modelled as a linear function of the timing of father absence and covariates (where applicable). The full covariate adjusted model fitted to the data was of the form:
logit[pr(Yi)] = B0i + B1iX1 + ?BjiZj
where logit[pr(Yi)] was the log odds of the ith DV, X1 was the continuous measure of timing of father absence, and Zj were the set of child, family and ecological covariates. The parameter B1i represents the effect of father absence on the log odds of the ith DV. A measure of effect size is provided by the odds ratio (OR) between the timing of father absence and the DV. The OR represents the multiplicative effect of a one-unit shift in the 3-level father absence variable. The corresponding analyses for the continuous DV (GPA) were based on standard linear regression, and the measure of effect size is provided by the standardised regression coefficient (beta) for the timing of father absence measure.
To illustrate the extent of the association between the timing of father absence and the binary outcome measures after adjustment for covariates, estimates of the adjusted rates for each outcome were computed using the parameters of the fitted logistic regression models. The adjusted rates were computed using the method described by Lee (1981) and can be interpreted as the hypothetical rates of each outcome that would have been observed had all sample members experienced their existing mix of covariate factors but varied in their exposure to father absence.
Rates of Early Sexual Activity and Adolescent Pregnancy by Timing of Father Absence
Do rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy differed according to timing of onset of father absence? We expected a dose-response relationship in which early father-absent girls would have the highest rates of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, followed by late father-absent girls, followed by father-present girls.
Figure 1 shows rates of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy in both the USA and New Zealand (NZ) samples according to timing of father absence: early father absence (beginning ages 0-5), late father absence (beginning ages 6-13), and father presence (from ages 0-13). For each father-absent/present group, the solid lines in the figure show the percentage of girls who had sexual intercourse by age 16 and the percentage of girls who experienced an adolescent pregnancy. Logistic regression of the data in Figure 1 showed that earlier onset of father absence was associated with a corresponding increase in girls’ rates of both early sexual activity (USA sample: N = 227, B [SE = .16] = .70, ?2 = 20.51, p < .0001, OR = 2.01; NZ sample: N = 520, B [SE = .12] = .76, ?2 = 38.04, p < .0001, OR = 2.14) and adolescent pregnancy (USA sample: N = 242, B [SE = .23] = 1.15, ?2 = 24.97, p < .0001, OR = 3.15; NZ sample: N = 520, B [SE = .19] = 1.16, ?2 = 38.28, p < .0001, OR = 3.19) in both samples. As expected, early father-absent girls had the highest rates of both early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, followed by late father-absent girls, followed by father-present girls (Figure 1). For example, adolescent pregnancy rates were approximately 7-times higher in the USA sample and 8-times higher in the NZ sample among early father-absent girls than among father-present girls. In addition, there was remarkable similarity between the USA and NZ samples in both the ordering of results across groups and the base rates for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy within each group (despite the overall base rates being higher in the USA sample).
Child, Family, and Ecological Factors Associated with Timing of Father Absence, Early Sexual Activity, and Adolescent Pregnancy
Although the results in Figure 1 indicate that earlier onset of father absence was associated with increased risk of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, it is possible that these associations are due to contextual factors that correlate with both the timing of father absence and early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. To examine this issue, Table 1 displays mean levels of child conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors in relation to (a) the timing of father absence, (b) occurrence of early sexual activity, and (c) occurrence of an adolescent pregnancy. For ease of data presentation, all measures (except for race and mother's age at 1st birth) have been expressed in standardized form. Mean differences were tested using the F statistic.
Table 1 clearly demonstrates the presence of a pervasive relationship between earlier timing of father absence and more exposure to familial and ecological stressors. Across both samples, girls whose birth fathers were absent from an earlier age were more likely to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds characterized by young motherhood, minority racial status, lower socioeconomic status, more family life stress, poor parental relationships (i.e., low dyadic adjustment, high marital conflict), and low quality parental investment (i.e., harsh discipline, lack of parental monitoring, low maternal emotional responsiveness). The strong pattern of covariation between timing of father absence and girls’ exposure to familial and ecological stressors was strikingly similar across the two samples (Table 1).
Table 1 also clearly demonstrates, in both the USA and NZ samples, that early conduct problems and exposure to familial and ecological stressors during childhood were associated with precocious sexual outcomes. That is, girls who displayed early conduct problems, who were from socially disadvantaged backgrounds characterized by young motherhood, minority racial status, lower socioeconomic status, and more family life stress, who were exposed to dysfunctional parental relationships, and who received low quality parental investment were more likely to engage in early sexual activity and become pregnant as adolescents (Table 1). The overall pattern of relations between girls’ early behavioral, familial, and ecological characteristics and their subsequent involvement in early sexual and reproductive activity was again very similar across the two samples (Table 1).
Rates of Early Sexual Activity and Adolescent Pregnancy by Timing of Father Absence, After Adjustment for Covariates.
Next we examined whether timing of father absence contributed to subsequent risk of early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, even after controlling for early child conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors. That is, we examined whether father absence constituted an independent path to early sexual and reproductive activity.
The results presented in Figure 1 and Table 1 indicate that, although father absence was associated with elevated risk of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, the behavioral, familial, and ecological profiles of father-absent girls were comparatively disadvantaged. Moreover, early conduct problems and exposure to familial and ecological stressors consistently predicted early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Thus, girls' behavioral, familial, and ecological profiles could potentially account for the relations between timing of father absence and subsequent sexual outcomes.
To address this issue, we conducted logistic regressions to estimate the strength of the association between timing of father absence and rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy after adjustment for child conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors. Ten covariates were simultaneously controlled for in the analyses. These covariates are listed in the first column of Table 1 (see upper section of table for covariates in the USA study and lower section of table for covariates in NZ study).
As shown by the broken lines in Figure 1, after statistical adjustment for all covariates, there continued to be a linear logistic association between earlier onset of father absence and higher rates of both early sexual activity (USA sample: N = 197, B [SE = .23] = .72, ?2 = 9.54, p = .002, OR = 2.04; NZ sample: N = 466, B [SE = .17] = .45, ?2 = 6.75, p = .009, OR = 1.57) and adolescent pregnancy (USA sample: N = 207, B [SE = .33] = .1.07, ?2 = 10.45, p = .001, OR = 2.91; NZ sample: N = 466, B [SE = .26] = .74, ?2 = 7.89, p = .005, OR = 2.09) in both samples. Thus, even after simultaneously controlling for all covariates, early father-absent girls continued to have the highest rates of both early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, followed by late father-absent girls, followed by father-present girls (Figure 1). For example, after covariate adjustment, adolescent pregnancy rates were approximately 5-times higher in the USA sample and 3-times higher in the NZ sample among early father-absent girls than among father-present girls (Figure 1).
There was one notable difference between the USA and NZ samples. Whereas the effects of father absence on sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy remained largely unchanged after covariate adjustment in the USA sample, these effects were substantively reduced after covariate adjustment in the NZ sample (as shown in Figure 1). To examine which covariates caused this reduction, additional logistic regression analyses were conducted in the NZ sample in which father absence was entered into the equation simultaneously with each covariate. This enabled us to calculate the degree to which individual covariates caused a reduction in the effect of father absence (as indicated by change in the odds ratio) on early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. For early sexual activity, the following covariates each caused a reduction in the odds ratio at least 10%: mothers’ age at first birth, family life stress, father’s occupational status, maternal education, and marital conflict. Similarly, for adolescent pregnancy, reductions in the odds ratio of at least 10% were caused by family living standards, family life stress, father’s occupational status, maternal education, maternal punitiveness, and marital conflict.
Finally, to examine which group of covariates uniquely predicted early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy after controlling for timing of father absence, we reran the logistic regression analyses using forward stepwise procedures, forcing the entry of the father absence variable into the equation on the first step, and then allowing free entry of all covariates into the equation on subsequent steps. In the USA sample, in prediction of both early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, only early childhood externalizing problems entered the equation after controlling for timing of father absence. None of the measures of familial or ecological stress, therefore, predicted early sexual outcomes after controlling for timing of father absence and early externalizing problems. In the NZ sample, in prediction of both early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, both maternal education and family life stress entered the equation after controlling for timing of father absence. In addition, father’s occupational status entered the equation for predicting early sexual activity.
Rates of Behavioral Problems and Academic Performance by Timing of Father Absence, Before and After Adjustment for Covariates.
Next we examined whether father absence discriminantly increased risk for adolescent sexual outcomes but not for behavioral and mental health problems in general. To address this question, we conducted the same regression analyses that were carried out in the preceding section, but different outcome variables were substituted for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. The outcome measures examined in the USA sample included externalizing behavioral problems (ages 15-17; mother-report and child-report), internalizing behavior problems (ages 15-17; mother-report and child-report), violent acts (ages 16-17) , and high school GPA. The outcome measures examined in the NZ sample included DSM-III-R diagnoses for conduct disorder, mood disorder, and anxiety disorder (all ages 14-18), violent offending (ages 14-18), attempted suicide (ages 14-18), and failure to attain at least one pass in School Certificate before leaving high school. As in the previous analyses, the effect of timing of onset of father absence on each outcome variable was examined before and after adjustment for all covariates listed in Table 1.
The key analysis concerns the effect of timing of father absence after adjustment for covariates. As shown in Table 2 (adjusted rates in parentheses), after statistical adjustment for all covariates, there were no substantively meaningful linear relations between timing of father absence and any of the measures of behavioral problems (all p values > .33) in the USA sample, as indicated by both the low odds ratios (range: 1.05-1.35) and relatively flat rates of behavioral problems across the three father absent/present groups. In addition, after statistical adjustment for all covariates, there was not a substantively meaningful relation between father absence and high school GPA (N = 177, ? = -.11, t = -1.43, p = .16).
As noted in the Method, the four measures of externalizing and internalizing behavior problems were dichotomized (to facilitate comparison with other outcome variables). Because dichotomization attenuates the power to detect relations with other variables (MacCallum, Zhang, Preacher, & Rucker, 2002), we also ran the analyses using standard linear regression with continuous measures of the four dependent variables (as described in the Method). After controlling for the full set of covariates, the effects of timing of onset of father absence on both mother- and daughter-reported externalizing and internalizing behavior problems remained uniformly small and statistically non-significant (N = 203; ?s range from .01 to .16; all ps > .05).
The pattern of results was somewhat different for the NZ sample. As shown in Table 3 (adjusted rates in parentheses), after statistical adjustment for all covariates, there was a pattern of modest associations between father absence and the measures of behavioral and mental health problems, as indicated by both the odds ratios (range: 1.36-1.59) and the modest decline in rates of these outcome variables across the three father absent/present groups. Most of these associations obtained at least marginal statistical significance.
In sum, in the USA sample, after statistically controlling for all covariates, timing of onset of father absence remained strongly associated with early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy but not with other behavioral problems and academic performance. Although the direction of the effects indicated that earlier onset of father absence was associated with more behavioral and academic problems in the USA sample, the size of the effects were very small and did not approach statistical significance. By contrast, in the NZ sample, after statistically controlling for all covariates, there was still a pattern of at least trend associations between timing of father absence and the measures of adolescent adjustment, with odds ratios ranging from 1.36 to 2.09. Although early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy occupied the upper end of this range, and although the odds ratio for teenage pregnancy was substantially higher than for any other variable (+.50 or greater), there was not a clear divide between the effects of father absence on early sexual activity and other behavioral and mental health outcomes. Specifically, after covariate adjustment, the odds ratio for early sexual activity (1.57) was about the same as for conduct disorder (1.59), violent offending (1.56), and no school qualifications (1.50).
Does father absence uniquely and discriminantly increase daughters' risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, independent of early externalizing behavior problems and exposure to familial and ecological stressors during childhood? In addressing this question, the current research had a number of important strengths. First, the use of a cross-national research design enabled us to replicate key findings across diverse samples in different countries. Second, in conducting two studies, we were able to carry out independent tests of the hypotheses using somewhat different measures and methods. The striking similarity in results across the United States and New Zealand samples underscores the robustness and generalizability of the findings. Nonetheless, it will be important to replicate these findings in non-Western samples (see Waynforth, 2002). Third, the longitudinal nature of the research–in which girls were prospectively studied throughout their entire childhoods–enabled us to examine child and family variables that preceded risk for involvement in sexual activity and pregnancy in adolescence. Finally, the use of multiple informants, in which antecedent child and family data were collected from mothers and adolescent sexual outcome data were collected from daughters, makes it less likely that the current findings are an artifact of method variance.
Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?
Although the current research cannot demonstrate causation, three converging lines of evidence suggest that the answer to this question is “Yes.” First, in both the USA and NZ samples, there was a dose-response relationship between timing of onset of father absence and early sexual outcomes: early father-absent girls had the highest rates of both early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy, followed by late father-absent girls, followed by father-present girls. This dose-response relationship suggests that past research, which has consistently treated father absence as a dichotomous “yes-no” variable, has underestimated the impact of father absence on daughters’ sexual outcomes. This issue may be especially relevant to predicting rates of teenage pregnancy, which were 7-to-8 times higher among early father-absent girls, but only 2-to-3 times higher among later father-absent girls, than among father-present girls.
Second, in both the USA and NZ samples, father absence constituted a unique and independent path to early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Although measures of early conduct problems and lifecourse adversity covaried with both timing of father absence and adolescent sexual outcomes, these measures either did not account for (in the USA sample) or only partially accounted for (in the NZ sample) the links between father absence and early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. The relations between father absence and teenage pregnancy were particularly robust. For example, after controlling for all of the covariates, early father-absent girls were still about 5-times more likely in the USA sample and 3-times more likely in the NZ sample to experience an adolescent pregnancy than were father-present girls. In total, these data suggest that father absence may impact daughters’ sexual development through processes that operate independently of lifecourse adversity and go beyond mere continuation of early conduct problems.
Third, in the USA sample, father absence was discriminantly associated with early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. This association was specific to sexual outcomes and, after controlling for early conduct problems and familial and ecological stressors, did not extend to academic, behavioral, or mental health problems more generally. In the NZ sample, however, the picture was less clear. After covariate adjustment, there was still a pattern of at least trend associations between timing of father absence and the measures of adolescent adjustment, with early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy occupying the upper end of this range of associations. Considering the USA and NZ findings together, after controlling for measures of early conduct problems and lifecourse adversity, the effects of father absence on sex and pregnancy (1) were generally stronger than were the effects of father absence on other outcome variables and (2) clearly replicated across the two studies whereas other effects of father absence were more equivocal and replicated only in the sense of being in the same direction. In sum, after covariate adjustment, there was stronger and more consistent evidence of effects of father absence on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy than on other behavioral or mental health problems or academic achievement.
It is worth reiterating that all of these conclusions are based on the linear model, which provided the best fitting and most parsimonious representation of the associations between father absence and the outcome variables. Power would have been low, however, to detect non-linearity in the USA sample (given the use of dichotomous dependent variables and the relatively small sample size in the late father-absent group). The base rates shown in Table 2 indicate non-linear trends in the USA data, with late father-absent girls displaying higher rates of internalizing problems (both child- and mother-reports) and externalizing problems (child-reports only) than did either early father-absent or father-present girls. These non-linear trends did not replicate in the NZ data (see Table 3). Nonetheless, the possiblity that late father absence places daughters at special risk for some outcome variables deserves further consideration in future research with larger sample sizes.
Implications for the Lifecourse Adversity Model
In the literature on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy, the lifecourse adversity model occupies a dominant position. It proposes that a life history of familial and ecological stress–poverty, exposure to violence, inadequate parental guidance and supervision, lack of educational and career opportunities–serves to make early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy more likely (e.g., Coley & Chase-Lansdale, 1998; Rindfuss & St. John, 1983). The lifecourse adversity model has gained wide acceptance through consistent empirical support: Rates of teenage pregnancy have been found to positively covary with family stress, conflict, and disruptions (e.g., Fergusson & Woodward, 2000a; Hanson, Myers, & Ginsburg, 1987; Robbins et al., 1985); with low parental warmth/support, lack of parental control and monitoring, and maternal punitive behavior (e.g., Fergusson & Woodward, 2000a; Hansen et al., 1987; Scaramella et al., 1998; reviewed in Miller et al., 2001); with low socioeconomic status (e.g., Fergusson & Woodward, 2000a; Geronimus & Korenman, 1992; Robbins et al., 1985); with high neighborhood mortality rates (Geronimus, 1996; Wilson & Daly, 1997); and with minority racial/ethnic status (Cheesbrough et al., 1999; Dickson et al., 2000). The results presented in Table 1 are fully consistent with this body of research.
As discussed in the Introduction, the lifecourse adversity model has incorporated father absence as one of many stressors that can influence sexual outcomes. Indeed, as shown in Table 1, timing of father absence significantly covaried with all of the measures of familial and ecological stress in both the USA and NZ studies. Proponents of the lifecourse adversity model have recurrently stated that father absence predicts early sexual outcomes because it covaries with these stressors (see references in Introduction).
The current research suggests that the opposite interpretation is equally plausible: Measures of lifecourse adversity may predict early sexual outcomes primarily because they covary with timing of father absence. In the USA sample, father absence predicted early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy after controlling for early conduct problems and all of the measures of familial and ecological stress; however, none of the measures of familial and ecological stress predicted either early sexual activity or adolescent pregnancy after controlling for timing of father absence and early conduct problems. The results in the NZ sample were more equivocal: both father absence and some measures of familial and ecological stress (i.e., maternal education and family life stress) independently predicted early sexual outcomes.
Evolutionary and Social Learning Models
Given that the lifecourse adversity model does not appear to account for the current results, the question then becomes: What are the psychological mechanisms and processes that account for the relations between increasing exposure to father absence and greater risk for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy? From a social learning perspective, increasing duration of father absence is associated with increasing exposure of daughters to their mothers’ dating and repartnering behaviors, and these exposures may encourage earlier onset of sexual behavior in daughters, with consequent increased risk of teenage pregnancy. As Thornton and Camburn (1987, p. 325) suggest, “We expect that many children know whether their parents are sexually active after a marital dissolution and that formerly married parents who continue to be sexually active serve as behavioral models for their maturing children, thus increasing the children’s levels of permissiveness.” The social learning model thus posits that the effect of father absence on daughters’ sexual outcomes will be mediated by mothers’ dating and repartnering behaviors. This hypothesis deserves careful consideration in future research.
Another possibility is that mothers’ dating and repartnering behaviors do not fully mediate the relation between father absence and precocious sexual outcomes in daughters. Rather, as discussed earlier, quality of paternal investment may have a direct effect on daughters’ sexuality. The current evolutionary model posits that the motivational systems underlying variation in timing of sexual and reproductive behavior are especially sensitive to the father’s role in the family in early childhood. According to Draper and Harpending (1982, 1988), girls whose early family experiences are characterized by father absence tend to develop sexual psychologies that are consistent with the expectation that male parental investment is unreliable and unimportant; these girls are hypothesized to develop in a manner that accelerates onset of sexual activity and reproduction, reduces reticence in forming sexual relationships, and orients the individual toward relatively unstable pairbonds (see also Ellis et al., 1999; Ellis & Garber, 2000). This evolutionary model posits an early sensitive period (approximately the first five years of life) for the effects of father absence on daughters’ sexual development. Although the current results–that earlier onset of father absence was associated with greater risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy–are consistent with the sensitive period hypothesis, they do not clearly support it because timing of father absence was confounded with length of father absence in the current research. In total, the current results are equally consistent with either a sensitive period or linear dose-response interpretation.
Alternative Behavior Genetic Explanations
Perhaps the major weakness of the current research design was that it was not genetically informative. As noted in the Introduction, one plausible behavior genetic explanation for the current findings is that, through genetic transmission, mothers and/or fathers who have a history of externalizing disorders not only tend to have daughters who experience externalizing behavioral problems (including increased rates of early sexual activity and teen pregnancy), but also tend to disproportionately expose their daughters to father absence and accompanying maternal dating and repartnering behaviors because externalizing disorders predict divorce. A second plausible behavior genetic explanation is that mothers who experience early age of first sex and pregnancy not only tend to have daughters who experience early age of first sex and pregnancy (through genetic transmission; see Dunne et al., 1997; Rodgers, Rowe, & Buster, 1999), but also tend to disproportionately expose their daughters to father absence and maternal dating and repartnering because young mothers are less likely to form stable relationships with the fathers of their children (e.g., Amato, 1996; Bennett, Bloom, & Miller, 1995).
Consistent with these behavior genetic models, in the current research both early childhood conduct problems in daughters and earlier age at first birth in mothers generally predicted early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy in daughters. Importantly, though, controlling for both early conduct problems and mothers’ age at first birth (along with the other covariates) either did not account for (in the USA sample) or only partially accounted for (in the NZ sample) the relations between father absence and elevated rates of early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Although these results do not rule out the possibility that common genetic influences underlie the covariation between father absence and precocious sexual outcomes (see especially Comings, Muhleman, Johnson, & MacMurray, 2002), they do make it less likely that the current findings can be accounted for by the specific genetic pathways outlined above.
Over the last 25 years the field of developmental psychology has experienced a fundamental shift away from a “social address” perspective, in which variables such as father absence and social class were studied without explicitly considering how they influenced child functioning, to a “developmental process” perspective, in which intervening pathways and mechanisms have become of fundamental interest (discussed in Bronfenbrenner & Crouter, 1983). Critiques of the father absence literature (reviewed in Phares, 1996) partly motivated this change. A widely held assumption is that it is not father absence per se that is harmful to children but the stress associated with divorce, family conflict, loss of a second parent, loss of an adult male income, and so on. The current research suggests that, in relation to daughters’ sexual development, the social address of father absence is important in its own right and not just as a proxy for its many correlates. This does not imply that process is unimportant, but rather that relevant processes are likely to be father-driven (e.g., father-daughter processes, father-mother relationships, exposure to stepfathers) (see Ellis et al., 1999).
In conclusion, father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, even if other risk factors were present. These findings may support social policies that encourage fathers to form and remain in families with their children (unless the marriage is highly conflictual or violent [Amato & Booth, 1997]).
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Bruce J. Ellis, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury; John E. Bates, Department of Psychology, Indiana University; Kenneth A. Dodge, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University; David M. Fergusson and L John Horwood, Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine; Gregory S. Pettit, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University; Lianne Woodward, Department of Education, University of Canterbury.
In the United States, this work was supported by National Institute of Mental Health grants MH28018 and MH42498 and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant HD30572. In New Zealand, this work was supported by the Health Research Council, National Child Health Research Foundation, the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. We thank Jay Belsky, Ronald Dahl, and Satoshi Kanazawa for comments on earlier drafts of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bruce Ellis, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand. Electronic mail may be sent to: b.ellis@psyc.canterbury.ac.nz.

Domestic Violence research and the effective misuse of propaganda.
The issue of domestic violence is a tool used throughout the Western World according to many to give the mother an advantage in divorce/ custody proceedings. The misuse of research to inform Government policies certainly seems to fulfil the reasoning given.
In the UK there is the new domestic violence bill portrayed by Harriet Harman as a bill to stop men abusing women, yet she makes the gender difference in the media in order to make the public and the ‘professionals’ aware of her stance e.g.
Whilst the research carried out in a non-gender biased way and randomly shows virtually 50/ 50 male to female violence and vice versa, the women’s aid and others are organised for a gender biased on-slaught.
Relevant research from the UK:
NSPCC report shows that fathers are 'less violent' than mothers in their disciplining of children. 'Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom', published in November 2000 by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
Summary of Family Abuse ( ref. British Crime Survey 1996 ) 4.2% of Women and 4.2% of Men said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the last year.5.9% of Women and 4.9% of Men had experienced physical assault and/or frightening threats. 23% of Women and 15% of Men aged 16 to 59 said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner at some time. The inclusion of frightening threats increased these figures to 26% (1:4) and 17% (1:6) respectively.
The assaults included pushing, shoving and grabbing but also included kicking, slapping and hitting with fists which took place in nearly half the incidents. The victim was injured in 41% of the incidents with Women being injured 47%to Men being injured 31%. Violence was at its peak in the 16 to 24 age range. 16 - 19 was 10.1% Women and 7.0% Men: 20 - 24 9.2% for both sexes. Thereafter Men tend to be on the receiving end.
Married couples - married couples were at the lowest risk being 2% for Women and 3% for Men. Co-habiting Men were at greater risk being 8% whilst Women were 3%. Divorced figures were 6% for Women and 5% for Men (source: www.homeoffice.gov.uk ).
Home Office Research Study 191
This report presents the findings of a new computerised self-completion component on domestic violence, included as part of the 1996 British Crime Survey. The questionnaire was designed to maximise victims’ willingness to report domestic assaults and threats to the survey. It therefore provides the most reliable findings to date on the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales, and shows it to be prevalent.

The 1996 British Crime Survey included a new computerised self-completion questionnaire designed to give the most reliable findings to date on the extent of domestic violence in England and Wales. The self-completion questionnaire increased respondents’ willingness to report incidents by maximising anonymity and confidentiality. It also encouraged reporting of incidents victims did not define as ‘crimes’. The questionnaire covered physical assaults and frightening threats committed by current and former partners against men and women aged 16 to 59.
Current levels of domestic violence
• 4.2% of women and 4.2% of men said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner in the last year. 4.9% of men and 5.9% of women had experienced physical assault and/or frightening threats. These levels are considerably higher than figures from other BCS measures.
• Women were twice as likely as men to have been injured by a partner in the last year, and three times as likely to have suffered frightening threats. They were also more likely to have been assaulted three or more times.
• In total it is estimated that there were about 6.6 million incidents of domestic physical assault in 1995. 2.9 million of these involved injury. In addition, there were about 7 million frightening threats.
Life-time experience
• Women were far more likely to say they had experienced domestic assault at some time in their lives: 23% of women and 15% of men aged 16 to 59 said they had been physically assaulted by a current or former partner at some time. The inclusion of frightening threats increases these figures to 26% and 17% respectively.
• At least 12% of women and 5% of men had been assaulted on three or more occasions. They were termed chronic victims.
• Young women aged 20 to 24 reported the highest levels of domestic violence to the survey: 28% said that they had been assaulted by a partner at some time, and 34% had been threatened or assaulted.
Although the higher risk for young people tends to suggest domestic violence is increasing, it may also reflect a greater reluctance on the part of older victims to mention domestic assaults to the survey, or that incidents longer ago are less likely to be recalled in the survey context.
The victims
• Amongst women, risks of physical assault in 1995 were highest for those who were: aged 16 to 24; separated from their spouse; council tenants; in poor health; and/or, in financial difficulties.
• Amongst men, victimisation levels were highest for 16- to 24-yearolds; cohabiters; the unemployed; and again those in financial difficulties.
The assaults
• Pushing, shoving and grabbing are the most common type of assault. But kicking, slapping and hitting with fists took place in nearly half of incidents.
• The victim was injured in 41% of incidents. Women were more likely to be injured (47%) than men 31%). Although injury was usually restricted to bruising, 9% of incidents resulted in cuts and 2% in broken bones.
• Nearly all victims admitted they were upset by the experience, with women more likely to say so than men. The majority of female victims said they had been very frightened, compared to a minority of men.
• Of victims who had children in the household, about a third said the children had been aware of the last assault they had experienced.
• Chronic victims experienced more serious types of attack: they were more likely to be physically injured and were more emotionally affected by their experience. Three-quarters of the chronic victims were women.
The assailants
• Virtually all incidents against women reported to the survey were committed by men (99%). 95% of those against men were committed by women.
• The assailant was said to be under the influence of alcohol in 32% of incidents, and of drugs in 5%.
• Half of life-time incidents were committed by a current or former spouse compared to 43% of last-year incidents, probably reflecting
lower rates of marriage amongst the younger age groups.
• The majority of life-time victims were living with their assailant at the time of the most recent assault: older victims more often so than younger ones.
• A half of those who were living with their assailant were still doing so at the time of the BCS interview. Women were less likely to still be living with their assailant than men, and chronic victims less likely than intermittent.
Victims’ perceptions of their experiences
• Although the questions asked about incidents that would meet the legal definition of an assault, only 17% of incidents counted by the survey were considered to be crimes by their victims. Virtually no male victims defined their experience as a crime, while only four in ten chronic female victims did so.
• Victims were more likely to agree their experience made them “a victim of domestic violence” than a victim of a crime - overall, one third did so. Women, and in particular chronic female victims, were much more likely to say so than men.
Defining domestic violence
The term ‘domestic violence’ can encompass a wide range of experiences. The measures used in research vary considerably as to the type of relationship they count as ‘domestic’ and the types of experience that are deemed ‘violence’.
What is ‘domestic’?
Clearly, the wider the definition of domestic relationships, the higher are the estimates of domestic violence. The narrowest definition restricts domestic violence to that between people currently living together as couples, and often only as heterosexual couples. Estimates can vary on whether they classify incidents as ‘domestic’ that occur between people in the early stages of a relationship who do not know each other well, and those where there is no longer an intimate relationship but there has been at sometime in the past. The definition used in the CASI questionnaire encompasses all intimate relationships, whether or not there is, or has been, co-habitation. The police, however, tend to take somewhat broader criteria, describing incidents as ‘domestic’ that involve people who are related in any way or who live in the same household. This might include assaults on children by parents and vice versa.
What is ‘violence’?
Deciding what constitutes violence is not straightforward either. One option is to include all forms of physical assault and attempted assault, however minor and for whatever reason they were committed. Some commentators, though, suggest violent acts are only those where there is an intent to cause some harm, in particular pain or injury (Gelles, 1997).1 By only questioning victims, though, it is not possible to know for sure the intention of the assailant. The victim’s judgement of whether the force used is acceptable may also be relevant. However, it would be dangerous to assume that just because the recipient judges the behaviour as normal and acceptable, society would generally agree.
Physical violence is not the only way to inflict harm against a partner. A wider definition of violence would include bullying, psychologically controlling and emotionally abusive behaviour. The effects of these can be as great, if not greater (Straus and Sweet, 1992).
Presently, Domestic violence has been extended to include all acts which many would not consider as violent. It may soon be ‘One shout and you’re out.’
Martin Fiebert, PhD: (source) compiled the largest ever study on domestic violence on 107,000 people and there are 149 scholarly investigations: 121 empirical studies and 28 reviews and/or analyses that I can send you, which all demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partner.
So why are men being targeted by the Domestic violence industry at the expense of the proper research? As Kevin Browne Professor of family and forensic psychology at Birmingham University has shown current methodology are promulgating inter-generational abuse. This may explain this recent article at www.ctv.ca.
The gender abuse of the system and the facts may be found within www.un.org.
An incident of domestic violence takes place in the UK every 6 to 20 seconds. This would mean that between one in 20 and one in 38 are victims of DV per year, yet how many do you know?
Please note the industry is self-serving and biased in its approach to domestic violence www.homeoffice.gov.uk
A Violence against Women initiative is part of the £250 million Crime Reduction Programme. www.domesticviolencedata.org
• in any given police service, from 1.1 to 4.9 percent of ALL calls to police for assistance by the public are for domestic violence 10
• this is an average of just under 3% of ALL calls to police for assistance.
Yet we are currently being told in the media that up to 25% of all crime is domestic violence! The Women’s groups have even linked Domestic violence to contact arrangements and in divorce proceedings example 1 and example 2.
Such is the concern from the women’s groups and the Government against all the facts that even if found innocent men will be treated as if guilty, see
How many of these are false allegations to get advantage in divorce proceedings or to control the fathers contact, to punish him or even facets of personality disorders/ manic depressive disorder etc?
Finally unless the research distinguishes between married, co-habitating, lesbian, gay, and ex-partner with only evidenced domestic violence or large-scale independent empirical surveys then the facts and figures are simply not worth the paper they are printed on.

Economic cost of Governmental Mismanagement
The Cost of family breakdown; The true cost to the State of single mothers in the UK has been estimated in the region of 11 -19 billion pa, the Govt has successively revised its estimates upwards from 1 billion to 5 billion and then 11 billion. The cost of family breakdown is difficult to assess. The truth is there are no reliable data in the UK. The Western economies cannot function sustainably without taking into account the direct and indirect costs and then having policies to reduce the social and economic costs.
A simple survey on the internet shows a wealth of guestimates given successive Governments lack of social policy direction. Just peruse these sites for yourselves and ask yourself if our Governments care, also ask yourself why your tax bill is so high.

How did we measure the cost of family breakdown? FAMILY BREAKDOWN IN ALBERTA...

...effects of family breakdown on society, which is published in a new CARE paper called Counting the Cost: The Consequences of Family breakdown

In addition family fragmentation exacts a huge financial burden on the community. Currently the cost of family...

Lindsay, D. et al. (2000). The cost of family breakdown. Bedford: Family Matters From
The cost of family breakdown has been very high, if one looks at the social welfare cost as a percentage of GDP between 1972 and 1998...

(See: The Cost of Family Breakdown, a report by Family Matters page 82)

See CARE, The Merits of Marriage, 1998 and Counting the Cost: The Consequences of Family Breakdown, 2000.
Studies Centre, "Family Change: Guide to the Issues," Family Briefing Paper, #12, p. 1. David Lyndsay, The Cost of Family Breakdown...

However, we recognize that the importance of family support is such that the social cost of family breakdown ought to be shouldered in part by...

A new publication The Cost of Family Breakdown puts it at £16 billion and gives a detailed analysis of the way these figures have been...

PPT Slide. Cost of Family Breakdown. First step to strengthen family life and protection of children is to recognise effects & costs of family...

...in assisting families facing relationship breakdown. Establishment of a Men and Family Research Office would be the single most cost-effective...

The Cost of Family Breakdown. We have itemised and identified £15,000 million of costs attributable to marriage and family breakdown and we...

The Lord Chancellor's Department today issued a report by Sir Graham Hart which assessed the cost of family breakdown to the UK taxpayer at UK5...

Trouble for boys : the cost of family breakdown and absent fathers by Margaret Rodgers...

Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, "To Have & To Hold", estimated the cost of family breakdown at $6 billion a year.

The Cost of Family Breakdown Attempts...

...of ACT Now had a main article by Dr Clifford Hill on "The Educational Cost of Family Breakdown". He relates family breakdown to high rate...

These are the cost of family breakdown, crime, absenteeism, pain and suffering.

...would be the costs and benefits of producing an annual report on family trends including a special analysis of the cost of family breakdown?

...de 4 a 10 mil millones de libras esterlinas, pero el informe «The Cost of Family Breakdown» de la organización «Family Matters...

Aug. 2000. The Cost of Family Breakdown. A report by Family Matters for the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group. 2000...

...it has to "pick up the pieces" of martial and family disruption. A new study in Australia estimates that family breakdown there cost $6..

...de 4 a 10 mil millones de libras esterlinas, pero el informe "The Cost of Family Breakdown" de la organización "Family Matters...

For example, the GPI subtracts imputed values for the cost of family breakdown.

Net Capital Investment + 44.3 Loss of Old Growth Forests - 82.2. Depletion of Nonrenewable Resources - 1,281.6 Cost of Family Breakdown - 58.8...

...of social services benefits, divorce rates, single parenthood, and abortion all give testimony to the huge social cost of family breakdown.

These included an audit of the estimated £15 billion cost of family breakdown and a pamphlet last year, Underage Sex and Teenage...

44 Office of Population Surveys and Censuses 45 The Cost of Family Breakdown, Family Matters Institute 46P. Morgan: Farewell to the Family (LINK)

...for such things as the cost of family breakdown, crime and pollution costs (these are subtracted) and factors such as the cost of family work...

It all makes disturbing reading - not only about the number of broken hearts, but the financial cost of family breakdown.

Cost of crime. Cost of family breakdown, based on added expenditures. Loss of leisure time. Cost of underemployment, at opportunity cost...

Instead of only treating the symptoms of marriage and family breakdown (such as homelessness ... Committee found, the cost of marriage breakdown in....

The rate and cost of family breakdown has now become so serious that much effort and financial resource will need to be applied to preventing..

The financial cost of family breakdown in the UK is £15 billion per annum – - that is about £11 per tax payer per week!
On 14 September a Parliamentary report entitled "The Cost of Family Breakdown" and commissioned by the Lords and Commons Family and Child…
"The Real Root Cause of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of the Family" ... programs on top of a welfare system that has cost taxpayers $5 tril
Fatherlessness and family breakdown cost Australia 3.5 billion dollars p.a. • Fatherlessness increases child abuse.

Divorce and family breakdown is an epidemic. The results of this destruction, the crime, poverty and the lost opportunity cost society dearly.

The Cost of Family Breakdown Executive Summary. The family in Britain is in crisis.

PPT Slide. Cost of Family Breakdown. Three quarters of Children entering Care have lone parents. Source:FMI - Cost of Family Breakdown Report.
The Politics of Family Destruction
By Stephen Baskerville
The debate on the family is becoming increasingly politicized. President George W. Bush proposes federal programs to promote marriage and fatherhood and to enlist churches. Liberals respond that government does not belong in the family but then advocate federal programs of their own.
Yet the more polarized the issues become the less willing we are to look at the hard politics of the family crisis. Family policy is still discussed in terms set by therapists and social scientists: the rate of divorce and unwed motherhood, the level of poverty, the impact on children, the social costs. As if we don’t know.
As a social scientist, I do not deny the value of data (I intend to marshal some myself). But therapeutic practitioners have established such a hold over family policy that they have paralyzed our capacity to act. Writing on single motherhood in Commentary magazine, the eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson grimly concludes, "If you believe, as I do, in the power of culture, you will realize that there is very little one can do." Like many others (including the Bush administration), Wilson is reduced to advocating counseling and "education."
What seems missing here is old-fashioned politics, the kind that did not hesitate to make moral judgments and even express outrage. The politics of the prophets, for example.
The facts are well-established among social scientists, but a kind of ideological correctness on both left and right seems to keep us from confronting the full implications of what we know. We are afraid to challenge the accepted clichés about marriage breakdown, even when it becomes clear that they don?t correspond to the evidence.
We should begin, therefore, with the uncontested but seldom-mentioned facts. First, marriages do not simply "break down" by themselves. Legally, someone?and it is usually one?consciously ends it by filing official documents and calling in the government against his or her spouse. According to Frank Furstenberg and Andrew Cherlin, the authors of Divided Families, some 80 percent of divorces are unilateral. One spouse usually wishes to keep the family together.
When children are involved, the divorcing parent is overwhelmingly likely to be the mother. Scholarly studies by Sanford Braver, Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen, and others estimate that between 67 and 75 percent of such divorces are instigated by the mother. Feminists and divorce attorneys report that the number is closer to 90 percent. Few of these divorces involve grounds like desertion, adultery, or violence. "Growing apart" or "not feeling loved or appreciated" are the usual explanations.
The divorcing parent is likely to get custody of the children and coerced financial payments from the divorced parent. Brinig and Allen even concluded that of 21 variables, "who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce."
Clearly more is at work here than husbands and wives deciding to go their separate ways. Under no-fault laws, divorce has become a means not only of ending a marriage but of seizing monopoly control of the children, who become weapons conferring leverage backed by penal sanctions. The devastating effects of divorce and fatherlessness on both children and society are now so well-known that there is no need to belabor them here. What is seldom appreciated is the broader threat the divorce regime poses to ethical and constitutional government. In fact, there is today no better example of the link between personal morality and public ethics?between the fidelity of private individuals and the faithfulness of public servants?or the connection of both with the civilized order.
Significantly, as secular political sophisticates focus narrowly on the sociological, it is Pope John Paul II who has come closest to the root of the problem. In January, he issued what many saw as a surprisingly strong statement against divorce that specifically singled out lawyers and judges for criticism. For his pains he was attacked by lawyers, journalists, and politicians from both the left and right. Yet his characterization of divorce as a "festering wound" with "devastating consequences that spread in society like the plague" is as accurate politically as it is socially.
Since the advent of no-fault divorce, a multibillion-dollar industry has grown up around the divorce courts: judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, mediators, counselors, social workers, and bureaucratic police. All these people have a professional and financial stake in divorce. In fact, despite pieties to the contrary, public officials at all levels of government?including elected leaders in both parties?now have a vested interest in increasing the number of single-parent homes.
The politics of divorce begins in family court, a relatively new and little-examined institution. Family courts are usually closed to the public and their proceedings are usually unrecorded. Yet they reach further into private lives than any other arm of government. Though lowest in the hierarchy, they are "the most powerful branch of the judiciary," according to Judge Robert Page of the New Jersey family court. "The power of family court judges is almost unlimited," Page writes.
Secret courts have long been recognized as an invitation to chicanery. "Where there is no publicity, there is no justice," wrote British philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham. "It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial." Judges claim the secrecy protects family privacy, though in fact it seems to provide a cloak to violate family privacy and other protections with impunity.
Family court judges are appointed and promoted by commissions dominated by bar associations. That means they are answerable to those with an interest in maximizing the volume of divorce litigation. Though family courts complain of being "overburdened," it is clearly in their interest to be overburdened, since judicial powers and salaries are determined by demand. The aim of the courts, therefore, is to increase their workload by attracting customers, and the divorce industry has erected a series of financial and emotional incentives that encourage people to divorce. "With improved services, more persons will come before the court seeking their availability," Page explains. "As the court does a better job more persons will be attracted to it as a method of dispute resolution." Doing a "better job" really means attracting more divorcing parents with generous settlements.
A substantial body of federal and state case law recognizes parenthood as an "essential" constitutional right "far more precious than property rights" (May v. Anderson). In Doe v. Irwin, a federal court held that parenthood "cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions." Yet such apparently unequivocal principles are never applied in divorce cases, where judges routinely remove children from forcibly divorced parents without providing any reason.
Once a parent loses custody, he or she no longer has any say in where the children reside, attend school or day care, or worship. Worse, the parents who have been stripped of custody are in many ways treated as outlaws. A personalized criminal code is legislated around them by the judge, controlling their association with their children, their movements, and their finances. Unauthorized contact with their children can be punished with arrest. Involuntarily divorced parents have been arrested for running into their children in public places such as sporting events and church, for making unauthorized telephone calls, and for sending unauthorized birthday cards.
Parents whose spouses want a divorce are ordered to surrender personal diaries, correspondence, financial records, and other documents normally protected by the Fourth Amendment. Their personal habits, movements, conversations, writings, and purchases are all subject to inquiry by the court. Their home can be entered and their visits with their children monitored in a "supervised visitation center." Anything they say to their spouses, family, friends, counselors, and others can be used against them in court. Their children, too, can be used as informers.
Forcibly divorced parents are also ordered, on pain of incarceration, to hire cronies of the judge. In what some see as little less than a shakedown, family courts routinely order forcibly divorced and legally unimpeachable parents to pay attorneys, psychotherapists, and other professionals with the threat of jail for not complying.
Family law is now criminalizing constitutionally protected activities as basic as free speech, freedom of the press, and even private conversations. In many jurisdictions it is now a crime to criticize judges, and parents have been arrested for doing so. Following his congressional testimony critical of the family courts in 1992, Jim Wagner of the Georgia Council for Children?s Rights was stripped of custody of his two children, ordered to pay $6,000 to lawyers he did not hire, and jailed when he could not pay.
The principal tool for enforcing divorce and keeping ejected parents away from their children is a restraining order. Orders separating parents from their children for months, years, and even life are routinely issued without the presentation of any evidence of wrongdoing. They are often issued at a hearing where the parent is not present; they are sometimes issued with no hearing at all. "The restraining order law is one of the most unconstitutional acts ever passed," says Massachusetts attorney Gregory Hession, who has filed a federal suit on civil rights grounds. "A court can issue an order that boots you out of your house, never lets you see your children again, and takes your money, all without you even knowing that a hearing took place."
Hession?s description is confirmed by judges themselves. "Your job is not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you?re violating as you grant a restraining order," New Jersey Judge Richard Russell told his colleagues at a training seminar in 1994. "Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back and tell him, see ya around.... We don?t have to worry about the rights."
Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Women?s Bar Association, wrote in a column in the association?s newsletter that divorce-connected restraining orders are doled out "like candy." "Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply," and "the facts have become irrelevant," she reports. "In virtually all cases, no notice, meaningful hearing, or impartial weighing of evidence is to be had." Yet a government analysis found that fewer than half of all orders involved even an allegation of physical violence.
It doesn?t take much to violate such restraining orders. "Stories of violations for minor infractions are legion," the Boston Globe reported on May 19, 1998. One father was arrested "when he put a note in his son?s suitcase telling the mother the boy had been sick over a weekend visit." Another was arrested "for sending his son a birthday card." Parents are arrested for attending their children?s worship services, music recitals, and sports activities?events any stranger may attend. National Public Radio broadcast a story in 1997 about a father arrested in church for attending his daughter?s first communion. During the segment, an eight-year-old girl wails and begs to know when her father will be able to see her or call her. The answer, because of a "lifetime" restraining order, is never. Even accidental contact in public places is punished with arrest.
Restraining orders are in fact more likely to cause than to prevent violence, since laws separating parents from their children can provoke precisely the violence they are designed to prevent. "Few lives, if any, have been saved, but much harm, and possibly loss of lives, has come from the issuance of restraining orders," retired Dudley district court justice Milton Raphaelson wrote last year in the Western Massachusetts Law Tribune. "It is the opinion of many who remain quiet due to the political climate. Innocent men and their children are deprived of each other."
Domestic violence has now been federalized in a legislative agenda whose conscious aim is to promote easy divorce. Donna Laframboise of Canada?s National Post wrote that federally funded battered women?s shelters in the United States and Canada constituted "one-stop divorce shops" whose purpose was not to shelter women but to secure custody for divorcing mothers. The Violence Against Women Act, renewed by Congress in 2000, "offers abundant rewards" for making false accusations, writes Professor Susan Sarnoff of Ohio State University, "including the ?rights? to refuse custody and even visitation to accused fathers, with virtually no requirements of proof." The law?s definition of domestic violence is so broad that "it does not even require that the violence be physical."
Authorities bully some women into taking out restraining orders by threatening to take away their children. The February 20, 2001, edition of the Massachusetts News described how Heidi Howard was ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services to take out a restraining order against her husband and divorce him, though neither parent was charged with any wrongdoing. When she refused, the social workers seized her children. Reporter Nev Moore claims to have seen hundreds of similar cases. Government officials can now impose divorce not only on one unwilling parent but on both.
While the domestic violence industry is driven by federal funding, the main financial fuel of the divorce machinery is "child support," which subsidizes and encourages unilateral divorce. Bryce Christensen of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society argues for a "linkage between aggressive child-support policies and the erosion of wedlock."
Those accused of failing to pay child support?"deadbeat dads"?are now the subject of a national demonology. Yet a federally funded study by Sanford Braver, published as Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths, found government "estimates" of nonpayment are produced not from any official statistics but entirely from surveys of custodial parents. Braver concluded that "the single most important factor relating to nonpayment" is unemployment.
Braver is not alone. Columnist Kathleen Parker has concluded that "the ?deadbeat dad? is an egregious exaggeration, a caricature of a few desperate men who for various reasons?sometimes pretty good ones?fail to hand over their paycheck, assuming they have one." Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times likewise found "scant evidence that crackdowns...serve any purpose other than to increase the bank accounts of those special-interest groups pushing enforcement."
Child support enforcement is now a massive industry, where revolving doors, financial transfers, and other channels connect family courts with legislators, interlocking executive agencies on the federal, state, and local level, with private contractors.
To encourage divorce, child support must be set high enough to make divorce attractive for mothers, and setting it is a political process conducted by officials and groups that thrive on divorce. About half the states use guidelines devised not by the legislature but by courts and enforcement agencies. Yet even legislative enactment is no guarantee of impartiality, since legislators may divert enforcement contracts to their own firms.
The ethical conflicts extend to the private sector, where collection firms also help to decide the levels of what they are to collect. Not only does an obvious conflict of interest impel them to make the burdens as high as possible to increase their take in absolute terms (and to encourage divorce), but the firms can set the levels high enough to ensure the arrearages on which their business depends.
While working as a paid consultant with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the 1980s, Robert Williams helped to establish uniform state guidelines in the federal Child Support Guidelines Project. Predictably, Williams?s guidelines sharply increased support obligations in many states. Economist Mark Rogers charges in Family Law Quarterly that they resulted in "excessive burdens" based on a "flawed economic foundation." Williams himself acknowledges that "there is no consensus among economists on the most valid theoretical model to use in deriving estimates of child-rearing expenditures." Donald Bieniewicz, author of an alternative guideline published by HHS, writes, "This is a shocking vote of ?no confidence? in the...guideline by its author"?a guideline used to incarcerate parents without trial.
Governments also profit from child support. "Most states make a profit on their child support program," according to the House Ways and Means Committee, which notes that "states are free to spend this profit in any manner the state sees fit." With substantial sums at stake, officials have no incentive to discourage divorce, regardless of their party affiliation. Notwithstanding rhetoric about strengthening the family, neither Democratic nor Republican lawmakers are likely to question any policy that fills the public coffers.
The trampling of due process in child support prosecutions parallels that in domestic violence cases, since a parent may legally be presumed guilty until proven innocent, and the parent will not necessarily have a lawyer or a jury of his or her peers. "The burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which approves these methods. "Not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial," adds NCSL, and "even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer."
In the decades since the inception of no-fault divorce, family law has gradually become an ethical cesspool. Attorneys such as Hession charge that tapes and transcripts of hearings are routinely altered in family court. Hession?s forensic evidence was published last year in the Massachusetts News. When his client, Zed McLarnon, complained about the tampering and other irregularities, he was assessed $3,500 for attorneys he had not hired and jailed without trial by the same judges whose tapes were allegedly doctored. "This is criminal misconduct," attorney Eugene Wrona says of similar practices in Pennsylvania, "and these people belong in jail." In May 1999, Insight magazine exposed a "slush fund" for Los Angeles family court judges into which attorneys and court-appointed "monitors" paid. These monitors are hired by the court to watch parents accused of spousal or child abuse while they are with their children.
The corrupting power of forced divorce now extends beyond the judiciary, validating the pope?s observation that its consequences spread "like the plague." In 2000, four leading Arkansas senators were convicted on federal racketeering charges connected with divorce. One scheme involved hiring attorneys to represent children during divorce, a practice generally regarded as a pretext to appoint cronies of the judge. In the April 29, 1999, edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, John Brummett wrote that "no child was served by that $3 million scam to set up a program ostensibly providing legal representatives to children in custody cases, but actually providing a gravy train to selected legislators and pals who were rushing around to set up corporations and send big checks to each other."
The affair illustrates one reason legislators protect judges and their associates in the courts. Divorce attorneys are prominent in state legislatures. Tony Perkins, who sponsored Louisiana?s celebrated "covenant marriage" law, reports that similar measures have failed in some "seemingly sympathetic legislatures" because of "opposition from key committee chairmen who were divorce lawyers."
The potential of child support to become what one Arkansas player termed a "cash cow," providing officials with "steady income for little work," has been exploited elsewhere. The Washington Post reported in July 2000 that a top adviser to Prince George?s County, Maryland, executive Wayne Curry received contracts without competitive bidding for child support enforcement within days of leaving the county payroll. In March 2002, Maryland announced a criminal investigation of Maximus, which runs Baltimore?s program. The alleged misconduct included collecting money from parents even after their children had reached adulthood and then refusing to refund it. The whistle-blower expressed fear for her personal safety, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Throughout the United States and abroad, child support enforcement has been plagued with corruption. Kansas awarded a contract to Glenn and Jan Jewett, who were involved in bingo operations in Las Vegas and spent time in federal prison for drug trafficking, forgery, concealing stolen property, and writing bad checks. The DuPage County, Illinois, child support system has been under investigation for fraud. "A string of foul-ups plaguing Ohio?s child support system," included "millions of dollars worth of improperly intercepted income tax refunds and child support payments," according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and WHIO television in Dayton. In Wisconsin, "Parents who owe nothing have been billed thousands of dollars," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, including a man billed for children in their 40s, who "was compelled to prove his innocence."
In October 1998 the Los Angeles Times investigated fraud and due process violations in the L.A. child support enforcement system. Deputy District Attorney Jackie Myers had left office in 1996 because, he said, "I felt we were being told to do unethical, very unethical things." In December 1999, Insight reported on the case of a father left by the district attorney?s office with $200 a month to care for a family of four. One month, the district attorney "took all but $1 of his $1,200 paycheck."
Following the Times series, HHS was moved to investigate criminal fraud in the city?s system, but the General Accounting Office found the investigation "consisted of just two phone calls"?one to "one of the DA office employees who had engaged in misconduct." HHS apparently "did not interview any of more than a dozen people who a confidential informant claimed had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing within the child support program."
The divorce industry depends on the widespread violation of what most people still hold to be the most solemn promise one makes in life. It is no coincidence that public officials whose livelihoods depend on encouraging citizens to betray their private trust will not hesitate to betray the trust conferred on them by the public. Likewise, a society where private citizens are encouraged not to honour their commitments is a society that will not hold public leaders to their promises. Maggie Gallagher’s observation that marriage has become "the only contract where the law now sides with the party who wants to violate it" raises the question of whether we are willing to allow our government to be an active party to deceit and faithless dealing.
Our present divorce system is not only unjust but fundamentally dishonest. For all the talk of a "divorce culture," it is not clear that most people today enter the marriage contract with the intention of breaking it. "If the marital vows were changed to ?...until I grow tired of you,? or ?...for a period of five years unless I decide otherwise,? and the state were willing to sanction such an agreement, then divorce would not be such a significant event from a moral point of view," attorney Steven L. Varnis writes in Society. "But there is no evidence that the content of marital vows or marital expectations at the time of marriage has changed." Varnis may be only half right, but even so, the point is that the marriage contract has become unenforceable and therefore fraudulent. Until this changes, it seems pointless and even irresponsible to encourage young people to place their trust and their lives in it.
One may argue that government should not enforce the marriage contract, or any contracts for that matter (though the Constitution holds otherwise). But I am not aware of anyone who suggests the government should be forcibly abrogating contracts, let alone luring citizens into contracts that it then tears up. If we truly believe our present divorce policy is appropriate, we should at least have the honesty to tell young people up front that marriage provides them with no protection. Let us inform them at the time of their marriage that even if they remain faithful to their vows, they can lose their children, their home, their savings and future earnings, and their freedom. Not only will the government afford them no protection; it will prosecute them as criminals, though without the due process of law afforded to formally accused criminals. And let us then see how many young people are willing to start families.
It is one thing to tolerate divorce, as perhaps we must do in a free society. It is another to use the power of the state to impose it on unwilling parents and children. When courts stop dispensing justice, they must start dispensing injustice. There is no middle ground.
Stephen Baskerville teaches political science at Howard University and is author of Not Peace But a Sword: The Political Theology of the English Revolution.
Involuntary child absence syndrome and depression in males after relationship breakdown.
Sylvia Smith and Wei Wang

The present study was designed to investigate psychological well being in males. Specifically, depression, certain psychological strengths, and involuntary child absence syndrome were investigated. It was hypothesised that married males would have less depressive symptomatology than their separated or repartnered cohorts and non-custodial fathers would experience involuntary child absence syndrome. Fifty six men completed a questionnaire eliciting depression, ego strength, generalised perceived self-efficacy, and locus of control of behaviour. In addition, 38 non-custodial fathers in the sample competed a second questionnaire specifically designed for this study to measure involuntary child absence syndrome, and secondary stressors which were believed to contribute to adjustment after relationship breakdown. The scale developed to measure involuntary child absence syndrome demonstrated high internal reliability (.93). The analysis suggests that (1) married and repartnered males have less depression than their separated cohorts. (2) Generalised perceived self-efficacy and ego strength are reliable predictors of depression. (3) That involuntary child absence syndrome is related to depression and both persist over a considerable length of time after separation. (4) Physiological symptoms of ill health are related to depression in separated but not repartnered males. (5) Perceived control exerted by the ex-spouse and dissatisfaction with legal representation are related to depression. (6) The most salient distressing experience for men after relationship breakdown is the loss of their children.

Authors contact and affiliation
Sylvia Smith is a postgraduate research student at Central Queensland University.
Wei Wang is a Lecturer in Psychology at Central Queensland University.
Subject: Feminist Family Law rooted in USSR Marxist Law, a 1974 US legal journal article, showing the Marxist explicitly antifamily roots "Destroy the family," as the Communist Lenin said, "and you destroy society." [1]

There are frighteningly direct parallels to Marxist Communism and our current “no-fault” destruction of family and marriage, as noted in The Atlantic Monthly from 1926;

When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family… with fierce hatred, and set out… to destroy it… [W]e had to give [the family] a good shakeup, and we did,' declared… a leading Communist. [O]ne of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term 'illegitimate children... by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it… The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation… At the same time a law was passed which made divorce [very quick]… at the request of either partner in a marriage…

[Marriage became a game where it] was not… unusual… for a boy of twenty to have had three or four wives, or for a girl of the same age to have had three or four abortions. [T]he peasants… bitterly complained: 'Abortions cover our villages with shame. Formerly we did not even hear of them.'

Many women… found marriage and childbearing a profitable occupation. They formed connections with the sons of well-to-do peasants and then blackmailed the father for the support of the children. In some cases peasants have been obliged to sell [everything] in order to settle such… claims. The law has created still more confusion because… women can claim support for children born many years ago.

During the winter of 1924-1925 some of the older Communists accused the younger generation… of indulging… in loose connections; they blame the girl students for practising frequent abortions… Russian women students… [noted] that love was almost the only cheap amusement left to them and demanded that they be given… free abortions that factory women enjoy… Both in the villages and in the cities the problem of the unmarried mother has become very acute and provides a severe and annoying test of Communist theories.

…Another new point was that wife and husband would have an equal right to claim support from the other… The woman would have the right to demand support for her child even if she lived with several men during the period of conception; but, in contrast to previous practice, she or the court would choose one man who would be held responsible for the support. Commissar Kursky seemed especially proud of this point because it differed so much from the 'burgeois customs' of Europe and America.

Another speaker objected to the proposed law on the ground that some women would take advantage of its liberal provisions to form connections with wealthy men and then blackmail them for alimony.[ 2 ]
[1] Lenin merely repeated what Socrates had said and what Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx put into words. Lenin set out to do just that, hoping that a new society -- with the State as the ultimate father -- could be constructed. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have seen the consequences of the experiment.

[2] The Atlantic Monthly; July 1926; The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage; Volume 138, No. 1; page 108-114.

University of Louisville School of Law

Volume Fourteen 1975 Number One


Donald M. Bolas

A Survey of No-Fault Divorce Soviet Style
I. Introduction ............................................................................................... 31
II. Soviet Family Law Background ............................................................... 33
A. Early Law .............................................................................. 33
B. The Movement Toward Stability ........................................... 89
C. The 1974 Decree—The Pendulum Swings ............................ 42
III. Modern Developments in Soviet Divorce Law ........................................ 46
IV. Soviet and California No-Fault Divorce Laws Compared ..................... 50
A. Soviet Law …………............................................................................ 60
B. Similarities—Soviet and California …………..................................... 52
C. Dissimilarities ..............................…………........................................ 57
V. Conclusion .....................................…………........................................... 63


The Soviet law of divorce has been like a ship on a stormy sea ever since the 1917 October Revolution. Since that time it has been battered about by the waves of revolu-tionary principle, wartime necessity and modem practical-ity. These factors have produced a Soviet legal domestic relations history that is interestingly erratic but nevertheless quite instructive in light of changes in domestic relations law currently taking place within the United States.

The current debate in the United States is focused on the relative merits and shortcomings of so-called “no-fault” divorce legislation. The pioneer of that concept in the United States is the State of California by virtue of its Family Law Act of 1969[1] which made divorce in that state a non-

*A.B., 1964, The Citadel; J..D., 1967, Dickinson School of Law; LL.M., 1974, George Washington University Law Center; Member, Pennsylvania. District of Columbia and California bars. This article was the result of LLM. Degree studies in Soviet and Comparative Law at George Washington University Law Center.

adversary proceeding A few other states have subsequently enacted their own versions of no-fault divorce, and the con-troversy aroused by the concept has, among other things, caused the Rand Corporation to conduct a study of the Cali-fornia experience[2] so that further evidence may be obtained in order to more hilly assess its value.

Few members of the American legal community are aware of the fact that the Soviet Union has had, for some period of time, what can be described as a no-fault divotce legal system, And, it may be similarly observed that few Soviet lawyers[3] are aware of the fact that there is a growing trend in the United States to do away with “grounds” for divorce, thereby removing the stigma of guilt and lessening the wasteful expenditure of court time and attorney fees that such a practice cauntenances.

When the writer suggested this trend at a meeting with a group of Soviet lawyers in 1972, one of them asked, “Is it for a long time that you [California) have that system?” When informed of the January 1, 1970 effective date of the California law she remarked, “I think it is the influence of our law.”[4]

Although California legislative and judicial authorities might take exception to that observation, there are a number of similarities between Soviet and California divorce laws that suggest a “borrowing” or a remarkable coincidence.

The scope of this article is to survey the history of Soviet divorce legislation with particular emphasis on the 1968 So-viet Act. While doing so, reference will be made to analogous or comparable provisions in the California divorce law. It will be demonstrated that in spite of ideological differences, na-tions must deal with essentially similar problems relating tothe family. How they deal with those problems has an affect on the national birth rate, juvenile delinquency, family sta-bility and a host of other factors that may be of consequence at any particular point in a nation’s history. The Soviet ex-perience affords an unparalled opportunity to study the dy-namics of domestic relations law as an instrument of na-tional policy from which we might take some lessons.


A. Early Law

The church, the mosque and the synagogue dominated family life in pre-revolutionary Russia. Under Tsarist rule, the ecclesiastical law of the various denominations within the Empire governed marriage, divorce and family responsi-bilities. Registration of births, marriages and deaths was in the hands of the parishes. For the great majority of the Tsar’s subjects, this meant that the governing law was that of the Russian Orthodox Church, and this church permitted disso-lution of a marriage on only the most limited grounds[5].

For the Bolsheviks, with their Marxist disdain for reli-gion, the influence of the ecclesiastical authorities over the family was an outrage. Since the family represented the major institution through which the traditions of the past were transmitted from generation to generation, the new re-gime had to destroy the old bourgeois notions of the family and the home. There was also a very urgent practical reason for disassociating family relations from the influence of the religious authorities. This was the frustrated desire of many individuals for release from spouses who had become instru-ments of domination, and even of tenor. Enticing such per-eons to the Bolsheviks’ cause was facilitated by a policy of liberalization of divorce.[6] In light of the above, the first task of the new regime in relation to the family was to break the power of the church and the husband. By a 1918 Decree on

Divorce, civil marriage was substituted for religious mar-riage, and divorce was permitted by mutual consent declared at the Registry Office, or upon the application of one spouse to the court[7]. The wife was not bound to live with her hus-band, nor to take his name, and there was complete separa-tion of property. The first two rules still apply. Birth alone was declared the basis of family ties, and all legal discrimi-nation against illegitimate children was abolished[8]. A com-panion decree on marriage also struck at ecclesiastical influence by declaring that only civil marriages concluded before secular authorities would be recognized[9].

According to Marx and Engels[10] the private property basis of the family under capitalism entails unjust inequality between the sexes because men own women as instruments for the production of legitimate offspring to whom their pri-vate property can be passed. This leads to a double standard monogamy for women and philandering for men thereby encouraging prostitution and an unfair stigmatiza-tion of women who bear children out of wedlock and of these children themselves. Early Soviet policy was intended to at-tack these evils and to transfer the care, education and main-tenance of children from home to society. This would mean the end of the family’s socialization functions, and would remove the child from the conservative atmosphere of the patriarchal family to a setting that could be entirely con-trolled by the regime. True love and a genuinely monoga-mous family would finally be achieved. A family would con-sist only of a man and a woman in love, and marriage would automatically be dissolved when love or mutual attraction ceased[11]. Though the successive stages of civilization, Engels wrote, the institution of the family has served to protect the ruling class in its control of property. In the classless society of the future, the economic basis of monogamous marriage would disappear, and with it the supremacy of men, infidelity, prostitution, and the degradation of divorce

The mood of the first years of the Soviet regime is well expressed in the chapter headings of the pamphlet on “Com-munism and the Family” by Alexandra Kollontai: “Workers Learn to Exist Without Family Life,” “The Dawn of Collec-tive Housekeeping,” “Individual Housekeeping Doomed,” “The Child [brought up by] the Communist State[12].” The more responsible Party leaders fought the tendency toward social and moral anarchy that accompanied the early phase of the Revolution. Lenin, in a famous quotation, attacked the theory that “in a communist society to fulfill sexual de-sires and love drives is as simple and meaningless as to drink down a glass of water.” Nevertheless, the belief that the institutions of marriage and the family would eventually dis-appear under communism was part of a deeply rooted philos-ophy, and its exponents found passages in Marx and Engels to justify it. The theory of the “withering away of the family” was in fact officially maintained until the mid-1930’s[13]. It must be understood, however, that the attack of the respon-sible leaders was directed not against the family as such, but against the family as an economic and legal imit. It was not marriage itself that would disappear but rather the formal institution of marriage. Family life would continue, but it would not entail any economic or legal responsibilities. The family would be transformed into a free association, bound only by the free will of its members[14].

After 1917 a strong political factor appeared to support the Marx-Engels view of the family: Soviet leaders began to look on the family as a conservative hindrance obstructing the new socialist education[15]. The regime’s attitude was not unreasonable in light of the fact that the family was not organized by the political elite and, therefore, a prime source of potential opposition to it. Indeed, according to the find-ings of the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System, the family group in the Stalinist era, an intimate gemeinsehaft of exclusive character, became a common refuge from and concentration of opposition to political pressure[16].

As a result of ideological heritage and political expe-diency, there appeared in the Soviet Union a trend toward disintegration of the family group which was fueled in the 1920’s by use of the law as a means of implementing new policy. The result of Lenin’s two decrees promulgated shortly after the revolution, was to allow divorce without a challenge to motive, even without the consent and knowledge of one of the marriage partners! A copy of the decree, pronounced by a single judge, was sent only to the address indicated by the petitioner[17].” Moreover, only civil marriage performed in a registry office gave rise to the rights and duties of spouses[18]. Throughout the territory under Soviet jurisdiction, marriage was turned into an empty farce[19]. The situation was wors-ened by the fact that during the first few months of Soviet rule, which were marked by universal anarchy and “revolu-tionary creativity,” many local authorities went far beyond the provisions of the decrees. An example of that situation is illustrated by a regulation issued by the Vladimir city soviet in 1918, which provided:

Every girl above the age of 18 I~ hereby declared to be state property.

Every unmarried girl who baa reached the age of 15 is obliged, on pain of a severe penalty, to register with the “free love” office of the welfare commissariat.

A woman registered with the “free love” office has a right to choose a male aged 19-50 as a cohabiting partner.. . . Men also
have the right to choose from women who have reached the age of 18.

Interested persons may choose a husband or wife once a month. The “free love” office is autonomous. In the interests of the state, men aged 19-50 have the right to select women registered in the office even without the consent of such women.
The offspring of such cohabitation become the property of the republic[20].

The result of the two decrees was 4,913 divorces and only 991 civil marriages in Moscow during the first seven months of 1918[21]. According to one Soviet writer, that was more a result of the fact that the people initially preferred the eccle-siastical to the civil marriage, and only made use of the new regulations in the matter of divorce[22] However plausible that explanation may be, it is a fad that in the years following the revolution there appeared a rising number of de facto unions, an understandable result of war, revolution, migra-tions and growing social mobility[23]. Reminiscent of the ideol-ogy of Marx and Engels, a movement began toward equating cohabitation with marriage. Those favoring this reform saw no differences between registered and unregistered unions and, according to Marxist theory, there was none, beyond that represented by the sheer formality of registration[24]. Fail-ure to comply with this formality, however, deprived all those who cohabited of the rights of husband and wife.

The new Family Code of 1926[25] changed that situation by equating de facto cohabitation with marriage. It has been observed, however, that although article 12 of the Code was meant to define the degree of stability of cohabitation neces-sary for a de facto union to amount to marriage, it only served exemplary purposes and was unclear[26]. The result of the legislation was that precisely the same matrimonial rights and obligations flowed from a union which was not registered but evidenced by “the fact of cohabitation, com-bined with a common household. manifestation of mari-tal relations before third parties” and the like. Registration was made optional, henceforth merely evidence of the mari-tal relationship[27]. Subsequently by court decree, divorce was removed entirely from the courts and could be obtained by one party at the Registry Office, which sent the other a post-card notifying him or her of the end of the marriage[28]. Other changes instituted by the 1926 Code were in the area of ma-trimonial property and maintenance. The complete legal separation of goods had proven so unfair to the housebound mother that the new Code replaced it with community of matrimonial property[29]. Each spouse was made liable for maintenance for up to one year after the dissolution of the marriage if the other was in need and unable to earn a variation on the theme, he (or she) who does not work shall not eat[30]. By 1930, marriages could be terminated by infor-mal mutual agreement, unilateral desertion, or mere deser-tion without any announcement or agreement whatever[31].

The results of the new sexual freedom were disastrous. The Soviet press reported in the mid-thirties that promiscu-ity flourished. Stories circulated about men who had as many as 20 wives and about those who had been registered for marriage 15 times[32] Juvenile delinquency mounted, and statistical studies showed that the major source of delin-quents was the broken or inattentive home. Criminal stat-utes placed the burden upon parents to see to it that their children committed no crimes, for parents were required to pay damages and even fines, if they did[33], Additional public homes for children were established, and propaganda cam-paigns sought to persuade the public that a strong family was the most communistically inspired one[34].

The Movement Toward Stability

In the mid-1930’s, the theory that the family would dis-appear as a legal and economic entity was violently assailed as a “left deviation.”[35] The new ideological campaign went hand in hand with the legislation imposing liability on par-ents for the torts and crimes of their children, restricting abortions to cases of medical necessity, and introducing bo-nuses for mothers of large families[36]. Moreover, a change in attitude toward the abandonment of children in the event of divorce was reflected in the law
of 1936[37],requiring both parties to appear when a divorce was granted so that there might be more effective provision for the maintenance of the children. The purpose of the new law was said to be: “strug-gling with frivolous attitudes toward the family and family obligations[38]. The 1936 law went even further, and estab-lished a system of graduated fees for the registration of each successive divorce, and one’s divorce was to be noted on his passport. Although grounds for divorce were not required to be stated, and there was no prohibition against the granting of divorces, the fee system indicated the beginning of a change in attitude on the part of Soviet policy makers[39]. By 1938 it could be said by a prominent Soviet writer on the family that “the people of the U.S.S.R. are convinced that not only in a socialist, but even in a perfect communist society, nobody will be able to replace the parents - the loving father and mother.”[40] During this period the pre-Revolutionary Russian family life echoed in the Soviet idea of the sacredness of the “socialist” family[41]. During the debates on the law restricting abortions Pravda declared in 1986 that “Soviet marriage reveals the spiritual side of marriage, its moral beauty, inaccessible to capitalist society.”[42]

To what was this reversal in regime attitude attributable? It would seem that up to this point the Soviet woman was not in a much better position than she was in Tsarist days, described by a Soviet writer as “[d]eprived of the right to participate in the political life of the country, extremely limited in her choice of work, hopelessly bogged down in housekeeping, usually crushed by poverty, and having no rights even within her own family, the working woman had to drag out a miserable existence.”[43] There was also the matter of seven to nine million fatherless and homeless children, according to Russian estimates of the early twenties.[44] In derogation of marxist ideology, the state had been unable to assist single mothers, and there existed almost no children’s homes, nurseries or kindergartens.[45] Because of more pressing tasks and limited personnel and material resources the state had not been able to fulfill the conditions Engels had specified for extrafamilial facilities. Furthermore, the impact of the regime’s family policies was largely restricted to the urban areas which, before the five year plans, accounted for less than one-fifth of the population.[46] Even the limited results of regime policies were sufficiently visible and dramatic to convince the regime that their continuation and extension would directly conflict with the program of forced-draft rapid industrialization[47]. More seriously, anti-family policies were leading to a situation where many children in the first Soviet urban generation simply lacked the kind of socializing experience to fit them intellectually or emotionally to the new society the regime was attempting to build, with its emphasis upon self-discipline and control, perseverance, steadiness, punctuality and accuracy[48]. While the family influence had been under-mined, extrafamilial agencies had failed to provide a work able substitute, leaving the child prey to the noxious and deviant influences of “the street.”[49] Finally there was the matter of the commonplace acceptance of abortion which had been legalized in l92O[50]. Indeed, some Western scholars estimated that in urban areas the annual number of abor-tions exceeded that of live births.[51]

No doubt this deplorable state of events demanded at least the action that was taken with respect to the divorce Law. A Soviet writer described the purpose of the 1936 amendment as “ . . . combating the thoughtless attitude to the Family and Family duties . . . [and curbing] cavalier divorces.”[52] And the same writer stated: “Yet the divorce proceedings in force prior to July 8, 1944, fell short of what society has the right to demand of every Soviet citizen in such a matter as dissolution of marriage. Divorce was too easy, and this was in growing conflict with the task of family building.”[53] Nevertheless, the June, 1986 amendment was a step in the right direction with its system of recording di-vorces in the registry office, requiring notation in passports and introducing fees that increased with each successive divorce[54]. Evidencing the impact of this new direction is the fact that divorces registered in Moscow dropped from 2,214 in June 1936 to 215 in July of the same year.[55]

B. The 1944 Decree—The Pendulum Swings

Soviet laws have never laid down a list of grounds for divorce[56]. Grounds have been unnecessary; the will of the parties was the deciding factor. However since 1944, accord-ing to the intent (but not the text) of the Decree, mutual consent and a fortiori, the wishes of one spouse, are not suffi-cient grounds[57]. The Decree provisions considerably limited access to divorce: they restricted grounds for divorce, made the procedure more difficult, raised the costs and required that a press announcement precede each divorce suit[58].” Breakdown of the marriage was introduced as the all- embracing ground for divorce, and it became the court’s duty to delve into the causes of marital failure and the degree and permanency of the break[59]. Soviet law abandoned the enu-meration of grounds for and bars to divorce[60].” In the Soviet view, enumeration of grounds for divorce “limits the possi-bility of dissolving marriage when that is really imperative and hinders the most fitting and correct judgments. Life is so complex and diverse that what may be ground for divorce in one case is no such thing in another.” [61] It has been ob-served, however, that after the 1944 law was enacted instruc-tions were sent to the judges by the then People’s Commis-sariat of Justice, stating typical conditions under which di-vorces should be granted, such as adultery, desertion, cru-elty, and the like.[62] In Berman’s view, from the reports ap-pearing in Soviet law journals and other legal literature, it is possible to detect the emergence of a judge-made tradition of Divorce law, similar to the growth of certain phases of English common law[63]. The general divorce criterion of “ne-cessity” was defined by the U.S.S.R Supreme Court on Sep-tember 16, 1949, as follows:

[T]he court dissolves a marriage when, proceeding from the concrete circumstances of the case, it is satisfied that the initia-tion of divorce proceedings was well considered, that continua-tion of the marriage clashes with the principles of communist morality and creates abnormal conditions for family life arid the upbringing of children.[64]

By application to various types of cases, the general principle began developing into particular rules and doctrines. Mere incompatibility might not serve as a ground for divorce when the parties had been mated for eight years and have three children, though in a case of more recent marriage where there were no children a different result might be reached.[65]

In a further effort to strengthen legalized marriage, the 1944 Decree abolished de facto marriages.[66] Moreover, a harsh indirect sanction against extramarital sex relations was introduced which required the birth certificates of children born of de facto unions, as well as those of all other children born out of wedlock, to carry a dash instead of the father’s name.[67] Since this provision was retroactive, it also applied to children born of de facto marriages before the decree, unless the paternity of their fathers had been regis-tered at their birth.[68] This stigma could be stricken only by subsequent marriage of the parents, since the new law abol-ished the establishment of paternity y court order or by acknowledgment.[69] Thus, in the twenty-seventh year of its existence, the Soviet state succeeded in reviving a social category, namely that of illegitimate children, against whose existence the Bolshevik leaders themselves had waged a re-lentless struggle before the Revolution.[70] The material and legal position of these children was now even worse than under the Tsars; the decree required an unmarried mother to be content with a meager state allowance of 100 rubles per month for one child. 150 rubles for two, and 200 rubles for three, payable until the child’s twelfth birthday. These al-lowances were only granted for children born after the de-cree’s promulgation and were slashed by one half a mere three years and four months later.[71]

The 1944 Decree went so far in its efforts to encourage large families that it increased the special taxes on single persons and persons with small families.[72]

Public sentiment, expressed more freely after Stalin’s death than before, indicated that the changes bad gone too far. One Soviet writer summed it up this way:

The decree of 1944 was certainly motivated by a desire to bolster legalized marriage. However, morally and socially justifiable as it may seem, this desire did in fact reflect the egoism of a ruling privileged class. The decree’s exhortation to women desirous of having children to get married amounted to nothing less than mockery of such women for whom marriage was impossible in view of the huge surplus of women over men — approximately 20,000,00 — resulting from Soviet war losses.[73]

The effectiveness of the new restrictions varied. Stigma-tizing illegitimate children appears to have been of dubious worth in holding down illicit sex activity and probably con-tributed to an increase of abortions, illegal since 1936 but often employed.[74] On the other hand, the change in divorce law helped produce a significant decline of the divorce rate[75].

The complexity of the new divorce procedure, particularly the requirement of going through two different courts, and the increased costs precluded divorce for a great number of broken marriages. In fact, the large number of illegitimate children — estimated at about six million in the early 1960’s - seemed to reflect the extent of desertion and concubinage as substitutes for relatively unobtainable divorce and remar-riage[76].

The Soviet regime’s decisive action in 1944 was taken for reasons other than a sentimental interest in preserving the family. The Soviet government was anxious to make good the heavy war casualties it had sustained and Soviet leaders assumed that their goal of increased births would be fur-thered by strengthening the family.[77] Moreover, since the mid-thirties there had been a general political and social retreat from original communist ideals which, to a great ex-tent, was brought about by Stalin’s ruthless drive toward maximizing industrial and military growth.[78] Since the drive required iron discipline and new incentives that were incom-patible with original ideals, the old ideals were abandoned without acknowledgment of the abandonment.

III. Modern Developments in Soviet Divorce Law

After Stalin’s death, Soviet family law became more liberal and a moderating influence became apparent. A Su-preme Soviet decree of February 10, 1964, exempted widows whose husbands had been killed or missing during the war, as well as citizens not gainfully employed, from the special taxes imposed on single persons and persons with small fam-ilies.[79] On November 11, 1955, abortion was legalized in view of the increasing number of illegal abortions, many of which ended tragically.[80] Articles appeared in the Soviet press pro-claiming that divorce law had “fallen behind the moral de-velopment of our [Soviet] society” typically stated:

In our view, such requirements as obligatory publication of the divorce notice and the requirement that both parties agree to the divorce do not help to strengthen marriage but simply give rise to falsehood and hypocrisy in marital and family relations. It is wrong to think that all divorce is immoral. There are situations in which divorce is more moral than preservation of the mar-riage.[81]

By the Decree of December 15, 1965,[82] both the conciliatory function and the divorce power were vested in the same court and the awkward requirement of a press announcement of the impending divorce suit was eliminated. Although the relief provided by this Decree may not appear very signifi-cant to a Westerner at first blush, it was of considerable import to Soviet citizens with respect to time consumption and inconvenience. Consider, for example, that in the matter of publication each city only had one newspaper that printed such divorce notices, except Moscow where there were two.[83] Because of that limited medium, publication could be de-layed for well over a year.[84] Since the notice required publica-tion after the conciliation court hearings had failed, the couple had to go through a second court procedure which again investigated the grounds for divorce in detail.[85]

The most recent and sweeping changes in Soviet divorce law occurred in 1968 when the long promised and awaited fundamental principles came into being. By way of back-ground, Article 14 of the 1936 Constitution of the U.S.S.R. provides that it is for the legislative authorities of the U.S.S.R. as a whole to legislate on the fundamental princi-ples applying throughout the Union to marriage, the family and guardianship. Each Union Republic, however, may enact its own code of laws applying these fundamental principles in detail.[86] Until June 27, 1968, no fundamental princi-ples had been enacted, and the only general all-Union legis-lation specifically dealing with family law was that passed on July 8, 1944.[87] In the meantime the law that was adminis-tered with regard to marriage and family was embodied in the codes of the various Republics. Of these the Family Code of the R.S.F.S.R., first enacted in 1926, was by far the most important. Not only does the IVS.F.S.R. itself comprise about half the population and nearly three quarters of the area of the entire U.S.S.R., but its Family Code was ex-tended to apply to the Republic of Kazakhstan and Khirgi-zia, and after 1945 also to the Baltic Republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia.[88] The R.S.F.S.R. Code also served as the model for substantially similar codes in seven other Republics.[89]

Ever since the partial censorship thaw that followed Stalin’s death in 1953, the law of 1944 has been under attack. Proposals have been made for its modification and for the enactment of all-Union fundamental principles.[90] Sporadic and piecemeal reforms referred to earlier had been made

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since 1954. However, the deferral for five years of publication of draft Fundamental Principles evidenced the deep cleav-age of opinion that existed on the subject within the Soviet hierarchy.[91] In the debate that preceded the draft of the new law, one Soviet writer viewed the most acute problems as being the divorce procedure and the legal status of illegiti-mate children.[92] She noted the positions taken by Soviet legal authorities on the divorce question. Professor G. Sver-dlov, an expert in family law, was of the opinion that the granting of divorces should remain the privilege of the courts, although he felt that divorce actions should be de-cided by the lower court.[93] The rationale of his position was that the state should not act merely as an impassive registrar of the breakup of the family. The opponents of court divorces proposed that divorce actions be processed by the civil regis-trar offices. A compromise proposal was that the court only hear those divorce cases in which the husband and wife did not agree on the future plans for their children.[94]

The status of illegitimate children was a problem that sprang from the 1944 Decree’s objective of increasing the birth rate as much and as quickly as possible. The most significant manifestation of the objective was that the out-numbered men were encouraged not only to increase their legitimate families, but also to father children upon the “sur-plus” unmarried women. The men were absolutely absolved from any personal or financial responsibility for such chil-dren.[95] Mothers of extramarital children had been prohibited from naming the father or claiming maintenance from him for the child. Instead, they were to receive a small monthly grant from the State, or they could place the child free of charge in a children’s home from which, it was said, they could remove the child when they wished.[96] Some partici-

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pants in the public debate insisted that the existing laws relating to illegitimate children should be abolished, and that the legal norms of the first years of Soviet power should be restored. This would have given children equal rights ir-respective of whether theft parents’ marriage had been regis-tered. Other persons suggested that the property status of illegitimate children remain unchanged, but that the chil-dren be allowed to use their fathers’ names. Many proposals favored restoration of the right of mothers to bring court actions for the establishment of their children’s paternity. These proposals would provide relief, including the exaction of alimony, regardless of whether the marriage was regis-tered.[97]

The Principles of Legislation of the U.S.S.R. and the Union Republics on Marriage and the Family of July 3, 1963,[98] inaugurated many sweeping changes in Soviet family law including changes in the status of illegitimate children and particularly changes in the divorce laws. As to the for-mer, the new legislation eliminated stigmatizing dashes on the birth certificates of illegitimate children.[99] The principles also introduced establishment of paternity by “joint applica-tion” of both parents, and, to a very limited extent, by court order, which may be issued only on the basis of “evidence that reliably establishes” the father’s “own acknowledgment of paternity.”[100] Adequate evidence of acknowledgment ex-ists, for instance, if the father had cohabited and maintained a common household with the mother before the child’s birth or had joined her in rearing or supporting the child.

With respect to divorce, the new Soviet legislation ap-pears to be extremely progressive. Although it is a great de-parture from recent Soviet divorce law in many respects, the fundamental principles embody a well-conceived, balanced approach to the question of the state’s function in relation to marital dissolution. Prior Soviet laws in this field were

50 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LA W [Vol. 14 1975]

characterized by extreme swings of liberality end obstruc-tionism. The new legislation is somewhere between these two, satisfying the state policy objectives of marital stabil-ity and order while providing a practical mechanism for sep-arating those couples that no longer wish to be joined to-gether. How this new Soviet divorce legislation will ultimately be evaluated requires further time and experience with it. There is nothing in Soviet sources to suggest that it is inadequate. In fact, when compared with the modern trend in American divorce law it may well be observed that the Soviet divorce law is a fitting model for the “new look” in domestic relations.



A. Soviet Law

A law “Approving the Principles of Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republic on Marriage and the Family” was adopted at the meeting of the USSR Supreme Soviet.[101]

In his report to the meeting of the USSR Supreme So-viet, the Chairman of the Committee on Legislative Propos-als of the Soviet Union, emphasized that the draft of the Principles “reflected the continuing concern of the Com-munist Party and the Soviet State for the strengthening of the family and that its adoption as USSR-wide law would promote further reinforcement of the Soviet family and the upbringing of children in the spirit of the high moral princi-ples of communist society.[102]

As finally exacted, Article 14 of the Fundamental Prin-ciples, relating to “termination of marriage,” represents the major triumph of the reformers in obtaining amendments of the draft Principles as originally published.[103] They have suc-ceeded in securing divorce by simple registration at register offices (Zags) in cases of divorce by mutual agreement where

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there are no minor children, a reform that has been Long canvassed.[104] The new Fundamental Principles go further in providing that such divorce by simple registration, and not through a court, will also be available in uncontested cases where there has been a legal declaration that a spouse is missing and cannot be traced, or has been found of unsound mind or an imbecile, or where a spouse has been sentenced to deprivation of liberty for not less than three years because of criminal offenses. Such divorce through simple registra-don will become effective and the certificate of divorce will be issued, however, only after the expiry of three months from the date of application. Divorce may be obtained from a court in all the above cases where the other spouse contests the divorce. In other cases the court may grant a divorce on the application of either spouse, except that a husband may not without his wife’s consent apply for dissolution of their marriage during her pregnancy or for one year after the birth of her child. The sole ground for divorce granted by a court is that the court shall be satisfied that tVrther common life of the spouses and the preservation of their family have be-come impossible. For comparison purposes, Article 14 is hereinafter set forth in its entirety.


Article 14

Termination of marriage

A marriage is terminated in consequence of the death, or a court decision on the recognition of the death, of either of the partners to the marriage.

In the lifetime of the two partners, a marriage may be dis-solved through divorce, by application of either or both of the

A marriage is dissolved by a court. The court takes steps to reconcile the partners to a marriage.

A marriage is dissolved if it is established by a court of law

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that the further joint life of the partners and the preservation of their family have become impossible.

A husband is not entitled, without the consent of his wife, to apply for dissolution of their marriage during the pregnancy of the wife or in the course of one year after the birth of a child.

When dissolving a marriage, the court, when necessary, takes measures to protect the interests of children under age and of a disabled wife.

A husband and wife who do not have children under age may dissolve a marriage, by mutual consent, at a Registry Office. In these cases the divorce is registered and certificates on the dissolu-tion of the marriage are handed out three months after the hus-band and wife have applied for a divorce.

The Registry Office also dissolves marriages in the case of persons: Whose whereabouts are unknown, according to the rules established by law;

Who are incapacitated as a result of disease or imbecility, according to the rules established by laws;

Who are sentenced for crimes with terms of imprisonment not less than three years;

Where disagreements arise over the dissolution of a marriage, these are settled by a court.

A spouse who takes the surname of the other spouse when entering into marriage has the right, after the dissolution of the marriage, to retain his surname or, on request, to revert to the pre- marriage surname.

B. Similarities—Soviet and California

Similarity of basic terminology is the most apparent common characteristic shared by the Soviet and California domestic relations statutes. The term “divorce” does not exist in the official terminology of either system. Soviet law has consistently officially sanctioned the use of the term “dissolution of marriage” rather than “divorce” although Soviet commentators appear sometimes to use the latter as a shorthand term in contradistinction to marriage,[105] and the new statute so employs it in that manner. California, on the other hand, like other states had been using the term “di-

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vorce” before passage of its new act with all the common law adversary connotations that term implied. Significantly, the Family Law Act of 1969 revolutionized the language of prac-tice in the domestic relations field in California. Terminol-ogy with connotations of fault and adversary proceedings was discarded. Most notably, divorce became “dissolution of marriage.”[106]

This seemingly superficial similarity is indicative of the more fundamental, underlying compatibility of both systems in what may be regarded as a no-fault principle in deciding whether dissolution is appropriate. Accordingly, the proceeding is commenced by an application in the Soviet sys-tem and a petition in the California procedure. Plaintiff and defendant terminology is conspicuously absent from both statutes. The heart of the no-fault concept, however, lies in the grounds for dissolution of marriage. In the Soviet system necessity is the sole ground that has been employed as set forth in article 26 of the Decree of July 8, 1944.[107] The Soviet system has never formally stated traditional gounds for dis-solution such as adultery, incompatibility and the host of others employed in most of the American states. The new Soviet legislation states that a marriage shall be dissolved when a court finds that “the further joint life of the spouses and the preservation of their family have become impossi-ble.” By comparison, the only ground for dissolution in Cali-fornia is the existence of “irreconcilable differences which have caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”[108] It has been observed by the California State Bar that by adopting that ground the legislature eliminated the hypoc-risy and perjury encouraged by former law and destroyed the effect of numerous cases interpreting the various fault grounds.[109] Thus it may be seen that in both the Soviet and California systems the concern is not whether any technical

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marital infractions, such as adultery, had been committed but whether the marriage is viable.

In line with the policy of both states to preserve mar-riage where possible, both systems employ conciliation courts. In California, however, only 15 of the 58 counties have conciliation courts. Prior to 1966 the conciliation pro-cess in the Soviet Union was a two step process utilizing two separate forums. That is the situation in California today. Under present Soviet practices, however, the same court that performs the conciliation function also has dissolution juris-diction. Success with conciliation practice does not appear to be similar. With respect to the effectiveness of reconcilia-tion procedures, one Soviet commentator reported that in two provinces of the Ukraine the courts succeeded in recon-ciling the spouses in 54 and 56 percent of all dissolution cases.[110] More recent information suggests, however, that court conciliatory activities have been ineffective and that the earlier Ukraine figures were inaccurate.

In California during 1970 there were 138,953 dissolution petitions filed.[111] Although there are not any statewide fig- tires available as to the number of reconciliations attributa-ble to conciliation courts for that year[112], Los Angeles County figures are instructive in light of that county’s large size and significant divorce activity. Of the 45,681 dissolution peti-tions filed in 1970, Los Angeles County credits its concilia-tion court system with 13,000 reconciliations.[113] If these fig-ures are indicative of the experience of other counties with

55 NO-FAULT DIVORCE [ Vol.14 1975]

conciliation court systems, it would appear that California experienced nearly a 30 per cent reconciliation rate in 1970.

Since 1926, the Soviet Union has had a system of com-munity property with respect to marital acquisitions. Cali-fornia also employs community property law, which stems from its civil law heritage. Generally the two systems appear to be similar with their provisions for community property being that property acquired after marriage, with exceptions for gifts, bequests and the like received by an individual spouse—these are the separate property of that spouse. The principal difference, until recently, was that the assets ac-quired during marriage by the Soviet couple become their joint property, with equal ownership and equal powers of management vested in the two.[114] By contrast, it has been observed that this arrangement would be impracticable in countries where economic systems are based on the existence of private investment property.[115] Nevertheless, in 1973 Cali-fornia dramatically revised its community property laws[116] in accordance with a growing trend in the community property states.[117] The basic principle of the new provision, which fully took effect on January 1, 1975, is that each spouse has equal management and control over the community property of the marriage. An exception to the general rule provides[118] that a spouse who is operating or managing a business which is community personal property has the sole management and control of the business. With the requirement of good faith imposed on the spouse managing a business the legisla-ture sought to avoid unilateral misappropriation of com-munity property by requiring that only the amount of com-

56 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW [Vol. 14 1975]

munity personal property reasonably necessary to carry on the business be allocated to that enterprise. Thus it seems that also in this particular the California law is very similar to Soviet domestic relations law, while recognizing and rea-sonably dealing with the practical problems associated with the private investment capital aspects of the free enterprise system.

Since California previously vested in the husband exclu-sive management and control of the community property, it may be argued that California has finally “caught up” with the Soviet system with regard to recognizing the wisdom of the Engelian approach to equality of the sexes. Viewed strictly from the standpoint of the letter of the law currently in effect in both systems, there is ample support for such an argument. The laws of both systems in this area would sat-isfy even the most ardent proponents of equal treatment for the sexes. In practice, however, very few western women, undoubtedly, would consider exchanging places with a So-viet woman since the philosophical basis of equality of the sexes gives Soviet women responsibilities incompatible with current western customs and mores. It is not uncommon, for example, to see Soviet women operating heavy equipment, laying bricks and performing other heavy manual labor[119]— all in the name of equality of the sexes. Nevertheless, com-parative lawyers recognize the Soviet matrimonial system of community of accession as a system which, with numerous individual variations, exists in many jurisdictions and is con-sidered by many jurists to correspond more than any other system with the conception of marriage held in modem times.[120] To this extent Soviet law and practice are in accord with much progressive thinking in western countries.[121] Re-
57 NO-FAULT DIVORCE [Vol. 14 1975]

cent California legislative changes demonstrate, moreover, the extent to which this modern trend is influencing American law.

C. Dissimilarities

In light of the foregoing major similarities, the differ-ences are even more intriguing from the standpoint of possible mutual reception of each other’s best features. Before proceeding too far into the depths of such speculation, how-ever, one is cautioned that an ideological chasm separates the two systems and the differences, beyond the similarities noted, have a distinctively ideological flavor and basis in many particulars. Some are quite subtle. By way of illustration, in the Soviet view even the physical location of the domestic relations law is significant. Since the establish-ment of Soviet law, family law has been an independent branch of it and has never been regarded as a part of civil law.[122] It is said that this is due to the fact that marriage is regarded as a personal alliance based on love and respect and not as an alliance of properties.[123] A Soviet writer cites in support of that supposition a poll of prospective newly-weds taken in Leningrad in the course of two months in 1962. Altogether 500 couples were polled at the city’s civil registry office, and additional data from another 300 couples was collected. Of those polled, 21 percent were workers, 20 per-cent students. 10 percent engineers and technicians, and the rest were white-collar workers, doctors, workers in science and the arts and military men. Only 5 percent of those polled either directly or indirectly mentioned the factor of property as a major motive for contracting marriage. For the over-whelming majority, it did not play any substantial role. Most of those polled considered non-property factors—like love, trust, equality and respect of the spouses—as being the main conditions for a happy marriage.[124] With ideologi-cally seated reasons such as those in this example, reception

58 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW [Vol. 14 1975]

of Soviet law must be considered in a most critical and selec-tive fashion.

The mast significant difference between the two systems is the fact that under Article 14 the law allows consensual dissolution by registration without judicial process, if the parties are without children. It would appear that by so doing, the Soviets have made a policy judgment that there is not sufficient state interest to justify judicial intervention where the parties agree to dissolution and the welfare of children is not a factor. To some extent this signals a return to the early years of Soviet rule where the state, by not taking an active role in dissolutions, become a passive registrar of marital break-up. On the other hand, it may well be a frank recognition of the old Russian proverb that “There is more to a good marriage than two pairs of legs in a bed,[125] and that there is little even the Soviet State can do to reconcile “irreconcilable” couples. That is not to say, however, that the Soviets have not tried to do so. As distinguished from California procedure, Soviet practice prior to the new law required a couple to go through the conciliation process. Be-fore 1966 it was even a two step process with a time consum-ing publication that separated the two steps. Did this dis-courage couples striving to break the marital bonds? It would appear not. It was asserted even in the early 1960’s that in practice mutual consent was sufficient to obtain a dissolu-tion and that anyone determined enough could ultimately succeed.[126] This assertion seems supported by the fact that over 97 percent of all dissolution petitions heard in the U.S.S.R. up to that time were eventually granted.[127] Moreo-ver, this trend probably dates back to the mid-1940’s as evi-denced by a Decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. chastising the courts for their laxity in the ad-ministration of dissolutions. That decree states in part:

59 NO-FAULT DIVORCE [Vol. 14 1975]

Judicial practice in cases involving dissolution of marriage demonstrates that many judicial agencies exhibit an insufficient un-derstanding of the political significance of the edict of the Pre-sidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of July 8, 1944, and are committing serious errors in the consideration of such cases.

In violation of such Edict, courts have in a number of instances unjustifiably satisfied suits to dissolve a marriage for reasons which contradict the principles of communist morality. Thus, in the case of Neimans, husband and wife, the Supreme Court of the R.S.F.S.R. gave as the reason for the necessity of a divorce the fact that the plaintiff [husband] had terminated his conjugal life with the defendant [wife] and was living with another woman. In the case of the Diners, husband and wife, the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian S.S.R. deemed the prolonged service of the plaintiff [husband] in the ranks of the Soviet Army during the war to be a ground for dissolution of the marriage, regarding this circumstance to be a do facto termination of the marriage. The Supreme Court of the Kazakh S.S.R. in one of its cases deemed the circumstance of a conflict between the plaintiff [husband] end his wife involving [their] attitude toward relatives to be a ground for dissolution of marriage.[128]

Melvin Belli observed on a visit to the Soviet Union in early 1961, that a woman had nearly a 100 percent chance of hav-ing her dissolution application acted upon favorably.[129] He noted that Soviet judges were of the opinion that a woman usually has better reasons for a dissolution of marriage. The man’s chances are appreciably lower. His reasons do not always fall in the category of necessity. However, Belli also opined that divorce in the Soviet Union was not as easy to secure at that time as it was prior to the 1944 Decree.[130] The favoritism, if in fact it did exist, would seemingly be further evidence of the ideological favoritism shown women in the Soviet Union. According to that observation one would be led to conclude that most of the relatively few divorce peti-tions denied in the Soviet Union at that time were those of men. It may very well be now that Soviet policy makers have merely decided to make the law conform with reality where the couples agree to dissolution and children are not in-

60 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW [Vol. 14 1975]

volved. Even in this instance the law imposes a ninety day waiting period before a certificate of dissolution will issue. Presumably this will give parties to a hastily contrived disso-lution the opportunity to reconcile.

Article 14 states the court should “take steps to recon-cile the spouses.” The court may, in fact, postpone the hear-ing for a period up to six months. This provision differs from California procedure because according to California prac-tice either party may request a conciliation court hearing after a dissolution action has been commenced. Both parties must agree to it, however, or it will not take place. If at the dissolution hearing it appears that there is a reasonable pos-sibility of reconciliation, the court must continue the pro-ceeding for a period not to exceed 30 days.[131] Since concilia-tion proceedings were required in all cases prior to the 1968 Soviet legislation, that may account for the fact that Soviet conciliation courts have done so poorly according to some sources. Soviet law now requires only more promising cases to go through the conciliation procedure; California makes it optional, but only with the consent of both parties.

Although it has been shown that the Soviet and Califor-nia grounds and philosophy of divorce appear very similar, their implementation is not quite as compatible. According to the intent of the 1944 Decree as noted earlier even mutual consent was not a sufficient ground under the “necessity” standard. Accordingly, dissolution decrees had been refused where the allegation was not sufficient, such as, that the wife did not know how to cook or do the washing; where marital lapses had been condoned; and where the petitioner sought dissolution on the basis of his own adultery and rejected the forgiveness of his wife.[132] In California such seemingly spu-rious reasons would not preclude the granting of a divorce. The reason is that the California legislature intended to pro-vide a simple, straightforward ground uncomplicated by numerous criteria and requiring only a simple finding by a subjective test.[133] The statutory standard is satisfied when a

61 NO-FAULT DIVORCE [Vol. 14 1975]

party or witness testifies to the conclusion that irreconcilable differences causing the irremediable breakdown of the mar-riage exist. If the court has questions concerning reconcilia-tion, it may inquire more deeply. In practice, additional in-quiry is rare, arising only when the court is alerted by reason of the testimony or demeanor of the party.[134] There is no defense to a California dissolution action. If the petitioner desires a dissolution he or she will receive it irrespective of the wishes or actions of the other spouse.

An interesting portion of Article 14 is the one prohibiting the husband’s right to institute a dissolution action without his wife’s consent during her pregnancy and for one year after the birth of a child. This provision is further evidence of the protective attitude that the Soviets display toward women. Although it is questionable as to how much value a husband may be to a wife, and possible children, under the statutory circumstances, the option nevertheless belongs to the wife. The increased likelihood of provision for material support to the wife and freedom from the emotional trauma of dissolution would seem to be the primary benefits a Soviet wife would expect if she elected to enforce the dissolution “mora-torium.” No doubt the ingredients of Soviet policy formulation included concern about the possibility of mothers and mothers-to-be who might be unable to properly care for themselves and consequently, become a burden to other par-‘~
62 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW [Vol. 14 1975]

ties. Whatever the policy reasons, the effect of the provision appears noble, even commendable. If such a provision were to be considered for reception into American law, it would not be without difficulty. Provision would have to be made for temporary injunctive relief so that community property would not be dissipated. Ordinarily such relief can only be granted after the commencement of the dissolution action. It would seem, however, that such an idea could be embod-ied in American legislation, with appropriate modification, if it were deemed socially desirable to do so. In light of the Womens’ Liberation Movement in the United States in recent years, it is surprising such legislation has not been requested. The fact that it has not been articulated as a matter of significance to date may indicate that women do not feel entitled to such, a provision, or that they consider it of minimal value. More fundamentally, would not such spe-cial consideration for wives actually be inconsistent with, and do violence to, the principle of equality of the sexes? The potential for abuse afforded by such a provision, moreover, in a property-oriented society such as the United States should not be minimized. A pregnant wife or one who re-cently gave birth might withhold consent when she knows her husband is anxious or even desperate for a dissolution, only in the hope of thereby securing a better property settlement. In any event, however, the matter may merit further consideration.

In general, the Soviet Union tends to minimize and downplay the commonality of its institutions and laws as part of its portrayal of the Soviet legal system as new social-ist law without bourgeois (capitalist) vestiges.[135] The Soviets discount commonality by relying on the dichotomy of form and substance; namely, similarities are formal, not substan-tive. In essence, this is the new wine, old bottle approach attributed to Stalin.[136] In fact, however, the Soviet system is basically a continental law system with an overlay of the new institutions or changes in traditional institutions that result

63 NO-FAULT DIVORCE [Vol. 14 1975]

from party rule, socialism and national planning.[137] Many Soviet institutions, such as divorce, are quite recognizable and operate in traditional ways. To a great extent, this results from the fact that there are various problems and needs of government common to all systems and there are practical considerations that militate against revolutionary solutions. The Soviets learned that lesson most bitterly in the family law area. Divorce in the Soviet Union was born in the womb of revolutionary principle—with virtually catastrophic consequences!

Time, experience and a new approach have brought Soviet divorce law through the tumult and extremism of earlier years to a more stable and mature stage of develop-ment. In spite of elitist Soviet claims[138] in the area of divorce, the present state of the law in this area in the Soviet Union and California suggest that both systems have arrived at substantially similar solutions because of practical necess-ity.

V. Conclusion

Soviet divorce law is now in calmer waters than at any other time in its turbulent history. Ever since coming to power, Soviet policy makers have been struggling with ideol-ogy, revolutionary principle and practicality to cope with the very critical matter of dealing with the family unit. At first, the Soviets viewed the family as antagonistic to the noble goals of the regime, and indeed the family was an isolated unit of resistance. When easy-divorce legislation attempted to destroy the family and cleanse it of ecclesiastical influ-ence, the adverse effects were felt most severely in the large cities. Nevertheless, Engeian ideals in the form of emanci-pating women had a disastrous overall impact on the nation as a whole as evidenced by a sharp rise in illegitimate births,

64/65 JOURNAL OF FAMILY LAW [Vol. 14 1975]

abortions and juvenile delinquency. It became apparent to the Soviet policy makers of the mid-thirties that the New Soviet Man of tomorrow would never exist if children did not receive proper discipline and education. State institutions proved inadequate for such a Herculean task and conse-quently policy decisions were made to restore the family as a means of providing stability. It was in the state interest to make divorce more difficult.

Near the end of the war legislation was enacted with the intention of making divorce more difficult. It was felt that this would also help to increase the birth rate and thereby replace the heavy war casualties the Soviet Union had sus-tained. At the same time, the domestic relations law encour-aged the male population to “father” children among the 20 million unmarried females.

In practice divorce may not have been as difficult to obtain as the Soviet policy makers had hoped it would be. In any event it was not easy, it was time consuming and it became expensive. After Stalin’s death, liberalizing influ-ences began to surface and eventually progressive changes took place. It was not until 1966, however, that the cumber-some two step divorce procedure was scrapped in favor of a more streamlined approach. But it is in the 1968 divorce legislation that the Soviet Union has made its best effort in this area of the law.

Without sacrificing stability the Soviets have squarely faced reality by allowing extrajudicial no-fault divorce in situations where there is a mutually consenting couple and no children. In other cases, the no-fault principle is espoused in that Soviet law does not, nor ever did have, specified “grounds” for divorce. When looking closely at the system, however, it becomes apparent that a reason for divorce has been required since 1944 and the court must be convinced of its sufficiency. Divorces have been denied in the Soviet Union and technically can still be denied under the new law if the court is so inclined. In that respect Soviet no-fault divorce differs from the new trend of no-fault divorce evi-denced by the 1969 California legislation.

With respect to the elimination of fault and grounds for divorce, both systems have displayed remarkable progress by recognizing that the adversary system has no place in the area of domestic relations. Most certainly, there still remains an adversary climate in both systems with regard to the issues of support, custody and property rights. Most impor-tantly, however, in California and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union, unhappily married couples may expeditiously shed their troublesome mates and begin anew. The com-munity property laws of both systems make the dissolution of the marriage even less burdensome than it might other-wise be. Without question, both are progressive.

Although there are many similarities between the two systems, there does not appear to be any basis for assuming that either received the law of the other in any way. To the contrary, the Soviet divorce law and that of California have very dissimilar histories. It is possible that they have inde-pendently arrived at substantially the same philosophical point regarding divorce because of the Civil Law heritage of both systems and the practical pressures of modern life that -reject the concept that two antagonistic spouses should be forced to remain in the same marital bed.

[1] CAL. Civ Code §§ 4350 et. seq. (West Supp. 1974).

2 Interview with Arthur Karapka, Office of the Director, RAND Corporation, in Washington, 0. C., November 13, 1973.
[3] Tape-recorded interview with Oskar P. Ukhachev, Vice-President of Moscow lniurcolleguia and twelve other Soviet lawyers and judges, in Moscow, Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, September 11, 1972 [hereinafter cited as Likhachev interview].

[4] Id.

[5] Berman, Soviet Family Law in the Light of Russian History and Marxian Theory, 56 YALE L.J. 26 (1946).

[6] J. Hazard &I. Shapirp, The Soviet Legal System 99 (1962) [hereinafter cited as J. Hazard].

[7] Rudden, The Family, 14 Problems of Communism 106 (1965) [hereinafter cited as Rudden]. Citing SOBRANIE UZAK . . .RSFSR 1917-18, No. 10, Art. 152; No. 11, Art. 160; No. 76-71, Art. 818. See also G. Sverdlov, Sovetskoe Semeinoe Pravo (Soviet Family Law) Moscow, Gosiurizdat, 62-10 (1958).

[8] Rudden, supra note 7, at 106

[9] J. HAZARD, supra note 6, at 100.

[10] A. Kassof, Propects For Soviet Society 387, 388 (1965) [hereinafter cited as A. Kassof.]

[11] Id.

[12] H. Berman, Justice In The U.S.S.R. 330 (1963) [hereinafter cited as H. Berman.]

[13] Id. at 33041.

[14] Id. at 831.

[15] Gorecki, Communist Family Pattern; Law As An Implement of Change, U. Ill. L.F. 121, 122.23 (1972) [hereinafter cited as Gorecki].

[16] Id. citing B. Daunt, A. Inn. & C. KwcrcaoaN, How Tim Sovrr Sysmu Wean 59-80, 107-00 (1964).

[17] Mironenko, The Evolution of Soviet Family Law, Itwmtn Foa Tim Stuny or ‘in U.S.S.R Buum, 8:3340 at 33 (May 1966) thereinafter cited as Mire-nenkol.

[18] Gorecki, supm note 15, at 123 citing RS.F.S.R. 1918 SOERANIE UZAK (Collection of Laws) Not 76, hf 818.

[19] Mironenko, supra note 17, at 33.

[20] Mironenko, supra note 17, at 34 citing A. Khartsev, Marriage and the Familyin the U.S.S.R. 139 (1964)

[21] Mirorienko, supm note 11, at 34 atmg 0. Svunwv, Sovir FAMILY LAW 69 (1968).

22 sapra note 17, at 34.

[23] Gorecki, supra note 15, at 123.

[24] Id.

[25] RS.F.S.R.., Law of Nov. 19, 1926, Code of Laws on Marriage, the Family. and Guardianship.

[26] Gorecki, supra note 15, at 123-24. According to art. 12: Evidence of cohabitation in marriage in the event that a marriage has not been registered shall be for a court: the fact of cohabitation, the existence in connection with this cohabitation of a common establishment, and the declaration to third persons in personal correspondence or other docu-ments of marital relationship, as well as mutual material support, common rearing of children, etc., depending upon the circumstances.

[27] Rudden, supra note 7, at 106.

[28] Gorecki, supra note 16, at 124 citing Gromoglasov, 20 Bud. Bra KI. R.SA~XSM. S (Sup. Ct. R.S2.S.R. 1929).

[29] Gorecki, supra note 16, at 124 citing Gromoglasov, 20 Bud. Bra KI. R.SA~XSM. S (Sup. Ct. R.S2.S.R. 1929).

[30] Goxecki, supru note 16, at 124 citing Code of Laws on Marriage, the Family

[31] Id.

[32] Id.
[33] HAZARD, supra note 6, it 101 citing Law of November 25, 1935 [1935] I. Sob. Uzak. R.S.F.S.R., No. 1, art. 1, §§ 4, 6.

[34] HAZARD, supra note 8, at 101.

[35] Berman, supra note 5, at 332.
[36] Id.
[37] J. Hazard, Supra Note 6, at 101 citing Law of June 27, 1936 [1936] I. Sob. Zak. U.S.S.R. No. 34, art 309, § 31
[38] Id.
[39] J. Hazard, supra note 6 at 101
[40] Berman, supra note 5, at 332

[41] Id.

[42] Id. At 332-33.

[43] L. Petrova & S. Gilevskaya, Equality of Women in the U.S.S.R. 52 (1957).

[44] Gorecki, supra 15, at 124 citing H. Geiger, The Family in The Soviet Economy 355n.105 (1968)

[45] Gorecki, supra 15, at 124 citing N. Dodge, Women in The Soviet Economy 76-99 (1966)

[46] A. Kassof, supra note 10, at 388.
[47] Id.
[48] Id.
[49] Id. at 389.
[50] Gorekci, supra note 15 at 125.
[51] H. Berman, Justice in the U.S.S.R. 49 (1963)
[52] P. Rommashkin, Fundamentals of Soviet Law 371 (Foreign Languages Pub-lishing House, Moscow, undated) [hereinafter citedas P. Romashkin].
[53] Id.
[54] Gorecki, supra note 15, at 126.

[55] Id. citing D. & V. Mace, The Soviet Family 212 (1963).

[56] Id. eiting 12. & v. MACI. Tha Sovnr VAinLY 212 (1963).

[57] Rudden, supra note 7, at 107.

[58] Gorecki, supra note 15, at 127

[59] Id.

[60] P. Romashkin, supra note 52, at 371.

[61] Id. at 371-72.

[62] H. Berman, supra note 12, at 342
[63] Id.

[64] P. Romashkin, supra note 52, at 372.

[65] H. Berman, supra note 12, at 342.

[66] Decree of July 8, 1944 [1944] 37 ‘/ed. Vsrkh. Soy. 5.5.511. Na 15 (Supreme Soviet U.S.S.R.).

[67] Id.

[68] Decree of March 14, 1945 [1945] Ved. Verkh. Sov. S.S.S.R. No. 18 (Su-preme Soviet U.S.S.R).

[69] GoreckI, wpru note £5, at 127.
[70] Mironenko, supra note 17, at 38.

[71] Id.

[72] Id. at 37.

[73] Id. at 38.

[74] Gorecki, supra note 15, at 128 citing Field, The Re-legalization of Abortion in Soviet Russia, 255 New Eng. J. Medicine 421 (1956). The frequency of abortion was one of the reasons for its re-legalization in 1955.

[75] Contra,. Mironenko, supra note 17, at 89 citing the following statement by Zgurskaya. First Deputy State Prosecutor of the Ukraine:
The ruling that all divorce petitions must be heard in court was, it seems to us, introduced with a view to erecting artificial barriers against the dissolution of a family.. . However, the thesis that in a society freed from social inequality family life “for the first time becomes life for the family, a life of love” was forgotten.
There is, therefore, nothing surprising in the fact that neither institution of two atagas of divorce court hearings nor the increased divorce court fees succeeded in cutting down the number of divorces.
The writer asserts statistical support stating that in 1940, just before the US.S.R. entered world War IL the divorce rate was 1.1 per thousand citizens as compared with 0.4 in 1950, typical of the postwar years under Stalk.
According to incomplete statistical data, the number of divorces dropped in the Usbeck Republic from 9,817 in 1939 to 524 in 1949, while the decline in the number of marriages in Usbeck and Kiev amounted to 8 and 13 percent respectively. Gorecki, aura note 15, at 128 citingA. Kmntmgv. Baanlsmv8.S.8.R. (marriage and the family in the OS.SIt) 286(1964).

[76] Id. at 128.
[77] Id. at 126
[78] Id.
[79] Mironeko, supra note 17, at 38.

[80] Id.

[81] A. Kbarchev, The Soviet Family Now and Under CommunIsm, Kommunist in the Current Digest of die Soviet Press 12:9-12, June 22, 1960 at 12.

[82] Decree of Dec. 18, 1965, on Changing the Procedure for Hearing Divorce Cases in the Courts H 24 & 26, [1965] 49 Ved. Verkh. Sov. S.S.S.R. Item 1292 (Supreme Soviet U.S.S.R.).

[83] E. Korenevskaya, Divorce in Russia: New Trends Novasti Press Agency at 4 (undated).

[84] Id.
[85] Id.
[86] Stone, The New Fundamental Principles of Soviet Family Law and Their Social Background, 18 Int’l & Comp. L.Q. 392 (1969) [hereinafter cited as Stone].
[87] Id.
[88] Id.
[89] Id. at 393.
[90] Id.
[91] Id.
[92] Prudkova, New Soviet Family Law, 50 A.B.A.J. 363 (1964) [hereinafter cited as Prudkova].
[93] Id.
[94] Id.
[95] Stone, supra note 86, at 394.
[96] Id.
[97] Prudkova, supra note 92, at 364.

[98] [ 968] 27 Ved. Verkh. Sov. S.S.S.R. Item 241 (Supreme Soviet U.S.S.R.)

[99] Gorecki, supra note 15, at flS.

[100] Id.
[101] A. Gorkin, Concern For The Soviet Family, Soviet Law and Government 29 (1969).
[102] Id.
[103] Stone, supra note 86, at 406.
[104] Id.
[105] See, e.g., P. Eowsmaw, aura note 52, at 36943.
[106] Attorney’s Guide to Family Law Act Practice 143 (C. Brosnahan and G. Colburn ed. 1972) [hereinafter cited as C. Brosnahan].

[107] P. ROMASBEIN, supra note 52, at 369.

[108] Technically there are two grounds provided for in Civil Code 4506, the other being Incurable insanity” which, of course, is only employed in appropriate cases.

[109] C. Brosnahan, supra note 106, at 144.

[110] Gorecki, supra note 16, at 127 citing A. Ksenenok, The Role Of The Court in Strengthening The Family In The Soviet State, 3 Sots. Zak 3 at 7; Filanovsky & Sherman, Family and Marriage Legislation and Life, Sovetakaya Belorussia, June 28, 1957, transl. in 9 The Current Digest of the Soviet Press No. 27, at 19-20 (1957).

[111] Interview with Roger Smith, Acting Chief of Vital Statistics Section, Bu-reau of Vital Statistics. State of California, in Sacramento, California, February 6, 1976 [hereinafter cited as Smith interview].

[112] According to Smith interview and interview with Bureau of Statistics, Call-fornia Judicial Council, San Francisco, California, February 6, 1975.

[113] Interview with William .J. Linehan, Assistant Director, Los Angeles County Conciliation Court Los Angeles, California, February 6,1976.
[114] Gorecki, supra note 18, at 130.

[115] Id.

[116] West Cal. Legislative Service 1913, ch. 987, at 2238, and West Cal. Legislation Service 1973, ch, 11, at 53. See generally Kahn and Frimyner, Management , Probate and Estate Planning Under California’s New Community Property Laws. 49 Cal. St. B.J. 516 (1974) [hereinafter cited as Kahn and Frimmer].

[117] See Kahn and Frimmer, supra note 116, at 616. The states of New Mexico, Texas and Washington have already changed their community property laws to give both spouses equal rights with respect to the management and control of their Community property

[118] Cal. Civ. Code § 5125 (West 1910).

[119] In fairness, however, it should be noted that large numbers of women are also in the professions. It is estimated, for example, that 80-70% of the lawyers and physicians in the Soviet Union are women. The author’s personal experiences and observations in Moscow would corroborate those estimates, at least as to the per-centage of women lawyers.

[120] Johnson, Matrimonial Property in Soviet Law 16 Int’l & Comp. L.Q. 1106, 1132-33 (1967).

[121] Id.
[122] V. Chkhikvadze, The Soviet State and Law 256 (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969). (V. Chkhikvadze ed. 1969).

[123] Id.

[124] Id.
[125] M. Belli & D. Jonses, Belli Looks At Life And Law In Russia 196 (1963) [hereinafter cited as M. Belli].

[126] Rudden, supra note 7, at 107.

[127] Id. citing Smolentsev, Jurisdiction In Cases On Dissolution Of Marriage No. 3, 61 (1957).

[128] Soviet Statutes And Decisions, Vol. 4, No.4 at 63, 64.

[129] M. Belli, supra note 125, at 201

[130] Id. at 205,
[131] See Cal. Civ Code § 4508 (West 1954).

[132] Rudden, supra note 7, at 107

[133] C. Brosnahan. supra note 106, at 145
[134] In practice during the hearing of an uncontested dissolution the following questions are asked of the petitioner by counsel to which a “yes” or “no” response is furnished:
1. You are the petitioner in this pipeseding are you not?
2. Axe the facts and statistical data set forth in your dissolution petition
true and correct to the best of your knowledge?
3. In your petition you have asked the court to diascive your marriage,
is that still your intention?
4. Are there presently existing between you and your spouse certain
irreconcilable differences?
5. Have these differences led to an irremediable breakdown of your
6. Do you feel that fuztbkr delay, counseling or the assistance of the
conciliation court would help restore your marriage?

if there is a property settlement agreement it is authenticated by the witness. The court is barred from probing into the masons for the dissolution.
[135] B. RAMUNDO, The Soveit Legal System 38(1974).

[136] Id.
[137] Id.

[138] Likhachev interview, supra note 3. Apparently unaware of the development of no-fault divorce in the United States at that time, Soviet lawyers and judges boasted of their no-fault model while ridiculing American obsession with proving technical fault grounds. When advised of the California no-fault development the Soviets in effect said that, in any event, they first created the concept.
In the pursuit of truth, justice and equality for the family unit.
Shaun O’Connell BSc PGCE

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