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Children to Unmarried Couples


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the percentage of births to couples who were neither married nor in a civil partnership was 47.5% in 2012. This compares to a figure of 40.6% ten years earlier.

The statistics on childbirth above show that society may be progressively moving away from marriage as a necessary ‘first step’ in creating a family. However, the ONS has also calculated that over 67% of families in the UK in 2012 consisted of married couples (or civil partners). Indeed the Marriage Foundation has observed that the statistics “also show that four out of every five UK couples with children are married”. Marriage is still therefore an important institution- representing over two thirds of the population- and the new marriage bill will, I hope, strengthen the institution of marriage by helping to remove discrimination. What is clear from the statistics is that many parties are choosing to have children before getting married or entering a civil partnership- and I recently read that this decision is, for some, rooted in the financial cost associated with getting married!

What particularly caught my eye was a report by the Marriage Foundation in relation to children born to unmarried parents and their experience of family separation. Their figures suggest that unmarried parents are more than twice as likely to separate than their married counterparts.

The report also suggested that over 40% of children will experience family separation before they reach 16 years old, regardless of whether parents are married or not. I think this is quite a high percentage, and the impact of such separation can often be negative.

You can contact Justine Osmotherley from our Family team on 0113 336 3323 or by email at justine.osmotherley@clarionsolicitors.com

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