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Examine the reasons for the divorce rate in Britain today.
Divorce is the legal separation of married couples. A divorce rate is the number of divorces occurring among the population of a given area during a given year. Since the 1960s there has been a great increase in the number of divorces in the United Kingdom. In Britain today, the numbers have fallen somewhat, but still stood at around 157,000 in 2001. This rate shows that about 40% of marriages will end in divorce. Some couples are more likely to divorce than others – couples such as those who marry young, those who have a child or cohabit before marriage and those where one or both partners have been married before. Functionalists are interested in divorce because they argue that a high divorce rate does not necessarily prove that marriage as a social institution is under threat.
One reason for the changing rates in divorce is due to changes in the law. In previous centuries divorce was very hard to obtain, especially for women. Gradually changes in the law have made it easier for divorce to be achieved. Law changes such as equalising rights for men and women in the area of divorce, widening the grounds for divorce and making divorce cheaper are all factors which are changing the rates of divorce. Although divorce legally ends a marriage, couples find other solutions to solve the problem of an unhappy marriage; one partner leaving the other although they remain legally married (desertion); legal separation of the financial and legal affairs of the couple where they remain married but are not free to remarry and an empty shell marriage in which the couple continue to live under the same roof but remain married in name only. Although these are other solutions to an unhappy marriage, as divorce has become more easily accessible, these solutions become less popular.
Another important reason for the change in…...

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