Study: Married parents three times more likely to be together when child turns 14

The “vast majority” of family breakdown comes from unmarried couples rather than divorced spouses, a new study has found.

‘Sources of family breakdown in the UK’, published by the Marriage Foundation, analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study following the first-time parents of 4,476 children born between 2000 and 2002 over 14 years.

Of those parents, 60 per cent of unmarried couples separated before their child turned 14 years old, in contrast to only 21 per cent of those who married before their child was born.

‘Marriage matters’

Following family breakdown, almost half of 14-year-olds (46 per cent) no longer lived with their natural parents. Of those, 70 per cent came from single parent families or their unmarried parents had separated. For those whose parents were still together (54 per cent) 84 per cent were married.

Marriage Foundation Research Director Harry Benson, who authored the report, said his findings show “the simple truth that marriage matters”.

“Marriage provides relationship clarity and encourages good things like sacrifice and forgiveness, which are so important when children are involved. This is why couples who have tied the knot tend to be more stable and more likely to weather the challenges that life throws at them.”

He added: “This report yet again challenges the Government and all politicians who say they are concerned with the impact of family breakdown as to why they are not doing more to support marriage.”

World Wars

In Scotland, the number of marriages has hit a record increase comparable with the post-war years of 1919 and 1945.

In 2022, there were 28,921 weddings between a man and a woman, 23 per cent more than the previous year. Aside from the 103 per cent rise in marriages following the removal of coronavirus restrictions in 2021, the yearly increase is only similar to the surges of 1919 (28 per cent) and 1945 (31 per cent).

Daniel Burns, Head of Vital Events Statistics at National Records Scotland, commented: “Only the two world wars have had more impact on the number of marriages taking place.”

In comparison, only 1,112 same-sex weddings took place in 2022.

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