A recent study carried out by the Marriage Foundation has calculated that couples who cohabit and have children are more than twice as likely to separate as those who married beforehand.
However, of the cohabiting couples who do not then go on to marry after they have children, only a small number will still be together by the time their child is 16, the study claims.
The Marriage Foundation’s study also claims that half of the children born today will have experienced the breakdown of their family by the time they are 16.
The Marriage Foundation was set up by the High Court judge, Sir Paul Coleridge, who said that the results of the survey show that the concept of being ‘happily unmarried’ is simply a myth.
The study analysed figures from the Office for National Statistics and found that 93 per cent of couples in relationships that were still intact by the time their child is a teenager were married. The study calculated that out of 100 typical 16 year olds, 45 of them would have gone through a family breakdown, whilst 55 would still be living with both parents. However only four out of the 100 would have unmarried parents still living together by the time the child was 16.
These figures compare to findings from the 2001 census and calculate that the likelihood of marriage and couples breaking up has remained largely unchanged during the last ten years. Nevertheless, because fewer couples now marry, family breakdown has sadly become more common, the study concludes.
Harry Benson from the Marriage Foundation analysed the figures and said: “The report provides solid evidence that married parents are more stable than unmarried parents.
“The contrast between married and unmarried parents who remain intact by the time their children reach their teenage years demonstrates that marital status plays a crucial role in family breakdown.
“With family breakdown costing an estimated £46 billion a year – that’s to say, more than the entire defence budget – in addition to the immeasurable social damage, it is clearly in the interest of Government and the taxpayer to work to counter this devastating trend.”
Harry Benson added: “Despite the evidence behind the stability of marriage, the Government seems fixed on airbrushing marriage from family policy papers.
“Whilst government policy disregards the crucial role marriage plays in helping couples stay together, the epidemic of family breakdown will roll on.
“Almost all couples who remain intact whilst bringing up their children are married.
“The most family-friendly Government of all time – as promised in 20120 – needs to recognise this hard evidence and do something about it.”