In "Dissolving Wedlock," Colin Gibson takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the subject of divorce, the current fate for forty-five percent of all marriages. Gibson's study combines the demographic, historical, social and legal evidence of the changing nature of marriage breakdown, placing particular emphasis on the state's processing of broken marriages in England and Wales.
The first half traces the interaction between social change, marriage patterns, family law and Parliamentary legislation from the eighteenth century to the present. Gibson also examines the consequences of morally and socially divisive legal regulations which sanctioned separation but harshly restricted divorce as well as the possibility of remarriage. The third section compares past (specifically Victorian) with present family patterns and stability and focuses on recent family policies such as the Child Support Act. Gibson concludes that a more open, consumer-oriented state, which provides citizens with greater freedom of choice, has helped to remold individual expectations.