A senior High Court judge has defended his view that couples should ‘seriously consider’ marriage if they are to have children.
In a piece for the Daily Mail, Sir Paul Coleridge said “Far from being old-fashioned, marriage is an engine for social progress, the most effective structure ever invented for nurturing children and building social solidarity.”
Yesterday The Daily Telegraph reported Sir Paul saying “stability is the name of the game” when it comes to considering what is best for children.
“The reality of the family is very simple. If your relationship is stable enough to cope with the rigours of child rearing then you should consider seriously adding the protection of marriage to your relationship”, he said.
Last week Sir Paul’s think-tank, the Marriage Foundation, hosted a conference at which he warned of “yawning public ignorance” about the damaging effects divorce has on children.
He called for a greater emphasis on helping prevent problems within marriage before they start through relationships education, rather than relying on marriage guidance after a break-up has happened.
One in four separating couples think it has no negative impact on their children, despite 32 per cent of them noticing deterioration in their children’s emotional state – according to a recent survey by a law firm and the Marriage Foundation.
Sir Paul said: “This is really important and persuasive research. It highlights the dangerous level of ignorance amongst those who embark on separation and divorce about the potential impact on their children, despite the evidence and scale of the problem nationally.”
“If we are to do anything about confronting this huge problem in a constructive and meaningful way, the benefit of relationship education, before and during marriage, needs to be both appreciated and become the norm not the rare exception”, he added.
Further statistics from the Marriage Foundation showed that married couples with dependent children were four times more likely to stay together than cohabiting parents.
An average of 5.3 per cent of unmarried couples with children under 16-years-old split up each year since 2009, compared to 1.3 per cent of equivalent married couples, the figures showed.