New figures from the Office for National Statistics show the proportion of married families in Britain has been stable for the last six years.
The think tank dedicated to promoting stable families, Marriage Foundation, has found that the proportion of families headed by a married couple is at 60 per cent, a level maintained since 2009.
Divorce rates have fallen over the same period, but family breakdown has been on the rise due to the increase in the number of cohabiting parents splitting up.
The proportion of families headed by a cohabiting couple has reduced slightly from 14.8 per cent to 14.7 per cent, but for the past forty years the trend has been steadily upward.
Marriage Foundation research has shown that cohabiting couples represent only 19 per cent of couples but account for 50 per cent of family breakdown.
The latest revised figures also show that the number of lone parent families has remained steady at 25 per cent of families for the past decade.
However, Harry Benson, Research Director of Marriage Foundation, has found the figure does not reflect the true story of family breakdown, which has risen rapidly since 2005.
He points to the most recent Census data that shows a further 8 per cent of families with children are stepfamilies.
Harry Benson, Research Director, commented: “The latest figures disguise the full extent of family breakdown. If stepfamilies are included, the proportion who have experienced the break-up of their family rises to one in three.
“And even this estimation is too low. Tragically, a proportion of these children who will go on to endure family breakdown.
“Almost one in two families with teenagers do not stay together until their children become adults.
“There’s a very simple equation. Parents who don’t marry have very poor odds of staying together. So the less marriage that takes place, the more family breakdown there will be.
“I hope all political parties will look at these figures and think very hard whether it’s acceptable for one in every two children not to live with both parents.
“We need them to start making strong decisions now to stem the tide of family breakdown.”
Notes to editors:
For media inquiries please contact Beatrice Timpson on 07803 726 977.
Harry Benson is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.
Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 40 years as a barrister and judge specialising in family law. The Foundation seeks to improve public understanding of marriage reduce the numbers of people drawn into the family justice system – some 500,000 children and adults each year.
Marriage Foundation has highlighted the crisis of family breakdown. Their research has found that a child born today only has a 50 per cent chance of living with both parents by the time they reach fifteen.
Foundation research has also found that 93 percent of parents who stay together until their child’s fifteenth birthday are married.