Hundreds of thousands of children are having to split their time between parents in different homes, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown.
The ONS said it is “increasingly likely that dependent children will be sharing their time between two different parental addresses” because of an increase in cohabitation and divorce.
Analysing the recent census for England and Wales, the ONS found 3.2 per cent of the 12.1 million dependent children had a second address belonging to another parent or guardian in 2011.
Children aged 10 – 14 were the age group most affected, with toddlers least affected.
For most of those who lived in two homes, their other parent lived in the same local authority area, although four per cent had a second address outside the UK.
The 2011 census was the first to ask whether respondents “stay at another address for more than 30 days a year”.
Options included a holiday home, student addresses and “Another parent or guardian’s address”.
In its research, ONS excluded those who went to a boarding school.
In April Sir Paul Coleridge, who at the time was a senior family judge, spoke out against family breakdown.
He said: “Family judges have a unique experience of this and therefore a unique contribution to make. We should not be afraid to speak out.”
He commented that he wanted to “give something back” and added: “I cannot sit here day after day watching misery and doing nothing.”
Sir Paul, who has been reprimanded because of his support for traditional marriage, said: “I know how consoling and good a good marriage can be and how it gets better over the years and also how ghastly family breakdown can be.”
At the beginning of this year MPs called on the Government to do more to support marriage because of the huge cost of family breakdown – put at around £46 billion a year.
Sir Gerald Howarth MP said: “The cost to the taxpayer, the cost in human misery and the damage to children serve to prove why it is time that Parliament took the issue more seriously”.