The Government has said in a new report that two married parents are the best way to bring up children.
The ‘Social Justice: transforming lives’ document says marriage should be “supported and encouraged” because it provides families with greater stability than other types of relationship.
The news comes as the Government is expected to launch a consultation later this month on whether marriage should be redefined.
The Social Justice report said: “Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study shows that around one in ten married parents split before a child’s fifth birthday, compared to one in three cohabiting couples.
“Given that married relationships tend to have greater longevity and stability than other forms, this Government believes marriage often provides an excellent environment in which to bring up children.
“So the Government is clear that marriage should be supported and encouraged.”
The Government also said it was concerned at the increase in family breakdown, as marriage rates have halved in the last 40 years and the number of single-parent households has grown by an annual average of 26,000 from the early 1980s to 2010.
The report said family breakdown “can have devastating long-term consequences”, and children who have experienced parental break-up are “more likely to have poor cognitive development and education and employment outcomes”.
A national newspaper has also claimed that tax penalties on married couples will be reversed.
Last month Treasury sources were reported to have said married couples will not benefit from a tax break in the 21 March Budget and that plans will not be reconsidered until next year. The Treasury said no such decision had been made.
The Conservative Party pledged to “recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system” in its 2010 manifesto.
The idea of married couple tax breaks also appeared in the Coalition’s programme for Government.