Figures from the UK’s office of National Statistics show that more families of unmarried couples than of married couples are breaking down for the first time ever. Astonishingly, despite unmarried couples with children making up just one in five of all parents, they now account for more than 50 per cent of splits which involve children because they are so much more likely to break up than married couples.
Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, who analysed the data, said the increase was due to a rise in the total number of families where the parents are unmarried. The group, which campaigns for the public understanding of marriage, said that an increasing number of unmarried couples would lead to more children being adversely affected by their parents splitting up. He added that the unpopularity of marriage was due to a preoccupation with “individual autonomy” in the UK and US.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court judge and founder and chairman of the Marriage Foundation, said: “Whenever family breakdown statistics are discussed people assume it means married couples divorcing, but . . . The real mischief is that separating cohabiting as opposed to divorcing couples are four times more likely to split up. This is the driver of the national tragedy of mass family breakdown.”