Top judge: ‘Stem the tide’ of family breakdown

A senior family judge has warned that something must be done to stop the “misery” of family breakdown.

Sir Paul Coleridge, who is retiring as a senior High Court judge in the Family Division, said judges who preside over family courts have “unique experience” and should not be afraid to speak out.

Meanwhile, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has criticised today’s politicians for treating marriage “shabbily”.


Lord Carey, writing in the Daily Mail, urged the Government to rethink its policies and put marriage at the heart of the ‘Big Society’.

Sir Paul, who was recently 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.

“Something can and should be done to stem the tide of family breakdown”, he told fellow judges and lawyers at his retirement ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.


“Family judges have a unique experience of this and therefore a unique contribution to make. We should not be afraid to speak out.”

He said he wanted to “give something back” and added: “I cannot sit here day after day watching misery and doing nothing.”

In December Sir Paul was told by the Judicial Conduct and Investigations Office that his pro-marriage comments in the media amounted to “judicial misconduct”.


Sir Paul admitted to taking early retirement partly because of the lack of support from some of his colleagues for his pro-marriage beliefs.

He has said he will now focus on the work of the Marriage Foundation which he set up in 2012 to combat the culture of broken families.


Lord Carey commented on marriage saying it “brings social cohesion”, and added: “It is worth supporting because it is the essential building block of society.

He said: “It is a relationship that focuses itself on the need to educate and lovingly raise the next generation.

“Too often, marriage is seen as a romantic day of celebration, but it is a lifetime of self-sacrifice and choosing to put others first.”

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