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Married Couples will be a minority in little more than a generation


The Centre for Social Justice has released a policy paper in October 2012. The report makes frightening reading for the next generation of our children.

I blogged recently about some co-habitation research that had been undertaken by Dr Esmee Hanna and Dr David Grainger, following an analysis of the Census from 2001 and 2011. Their research reveals a 34% increase in the number of co-habiting couples with dependent children over that period. The policy paper prepared by the Centre for Social Justice indicates that, following an analysis of the 2011 census that there has been a decrease in families that are made up of married parents. These figures are in line with other research that I have read that clearly shows that marriage is on the decline, but relationship breakdown is still a sad fact of our lives. The policy report referred to projections based on the Census which indicates that 48% of all children born today will see the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. We are frequently told that governments will not give further rights to co-habiting couples, because they wish to preserve the sanctity of marriage. However, it is very clear that relationship breakdown is on the increase, and by 2050 married couples with families will be in the minority.

The report reveals research that shows family breakdowns cost society £44 billion a year and lists problems for adults and children including “educational failure, mental and physical ill-health, likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, and living in debt and poverty”. These are certainly not outcomes that anyone in this society wants. However, in preparing the report The Centre for Social Justice undertook two polls through YouGov and Bounty and, of those polled, here are some of their thoughts and concerns:

• 75% think fatherlessness is a serious problem in society today, with almost a third thinking it is very serious.

• 9 out of 10 mothers consider it important that a child grows up living with both parents.

The report concludes that this current government’s “lack of clear and coherent strategy” is threatening to “undermine games in these other vital policy areas”. They feel that a Department for Families established to address family breakdown as an issue, would inevitably boost current efforts to strengthen families. I echo these thoughts and sentiments, as a family lawyer who deals with the breakdown of families on a daily basis. The research shows that action needs to be taken now to tackle these problems in order to avoid troubles in society later on.

Justine Osmotherley is a Partner and Head of the Family team at Clarion Solicitors and can be contacted on 0113 336 3323 or Email: justine.osmotherley@clarionsolicitors.com

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