Two thirds of divorces come ‘out of the blue’ for children


New research from Marriage Foundation reveals, for the first time, that the majority (60 per cent) of divorced couples were happy with their relationship only a year prior to separation.

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Marriage rates collapse among middle classes


The middle classes are turning their backs on marriage in their droves, Marriage Foundation has found in research published today. Data shows that the trend away from marriage is now spreading from low income groups to families on middle incomes.

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Marriage inequality between rich and poor soars to all-time high


New data analysed by Marriage Foundation shows an alarming widening of the marriage gap between rich and poor. Marriage Foundation found mothers with young children are four times more likely to be married if they are wealthy than if they are poor.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: In the light of the recent changes in the law does the MF have any particular or different position towards same sex marriage?

Answer: As we made clear during the lead up to the change in the law, that debate was not  the concern of MF and accordingly we had nothing to say in relation to it. The law having now changed we obviously work within the law and within the new definition. As we have always emphasised, the fundamental concern behind the work of the Marriage Foundation is in relation to family breakdown and its destructive effects on the lives of children. Our principal aim is to reduce the incidence of family breakdown and especially the number of children experiencing the separation of their parents with all its attendant misery and disadvantage. We are sure that this aim is best achieved by supporting and promoting marriage via a better understanding of what supports stability in couple relationships and better access to relationships education.  

Question: Why a UK Marriage Foundation?

Answer: We have lost confidence in marriage as an institution at the heart of families, and our ability to sustain healthy relationships seems more limited. The consequences are not just more personal pain and sorrow, but many wider social costs.  

We are not the flotsam of social trends. We make choices. The Marriage Foundation seeks to change the way we think about those choices – as individuals and as a society.

If we are going to have a happier society, a society where there is greater wellbeing,  then the statistics are quite clear: children are best brought up in committed, loving relationships – and the best of these are marriages. 

The Marriage Foundation seeks neither to preach nor to reject the evidence before us. There are many areas in life where we are happy to set a ‘gold standard’ of best practice and seek to change behaviour. So why not with marriage?

Question: Are you trying to turn back the clock?

Answer: Whatever the past, or the prospects for the future, we have to take responsibility for how we live now. The pain of broken relationships, and the wider costs to society are being borne today.

Rooted in a rigorous understanding of people’s hopes and fears, the pressures they face, and the consequences of our choices and actions, we believe we can and should shift the tide in favour of marriage.

People do still want to get married. In a 2007 IpsosMORI/Civitas survey of 1560 young people (aged 20-35) across the UK, 62 per cent of unmarried parents wanted to marry. Young people want certain things in place before tying the knot: the top three being a partner to whom they want to commit, financial stability and home ownership. The decline in marriage is a symptom of thwarted aspirations, not a rejection of the institution.

Question: Why do you think marriage is important?

Answer: Marriage is the most common form of partnership for men and women with six times as many couple families being married as cohabiting. Committed, intentionally formed, publicly recognised relationships provide the most robust and stable framework for mutual support within couple relationships, and for the care and upbringing of children. We believe that strengthening the institution of marriage is of great benefit to society through increasing wellbeing and reducing the costs and pain of broken relationships.

Question: Isn’t it better to support parenting rather than marriage?

Answer: Quality of relationship does, of course, matter. And there will be long-lasting healthy co-habitations, and unhealthy marriages that break down quickly. But in supporting marriage we need to remember two vital points:

First, marriage is a proven route to stronger relationships and this is not just a result of a ‘selection effect’. 

Secondly, quality of relationships alone doesn’t confer all protection and rights, nor give clarity as to public status. The public legal status of marriage is beneficial in and of itself, as well as a result to the quality of relationship that we believe it fosters and sustains.