Happy FamiliesBy Sarah Harris – 19th February 2010

Happy families: Research shows that married couples with children are more stable than those merely cohabiting

Married parents are ten times more likely to stay together than cohabiting couples with children, according to research.

The study also showed cohabiting has become a less stable form of relationship compared with 18 years ago, with couples more likely to separate.

Figures show that in 1992, 70 per cent of couples who had children after they were married stayed together until their child’s 16th birthday.

This increased to 75 per cent in 2006, showing that marriage has become a more stable family background for youngsters.

However, only 36 per cent of cohabiting parents stayed together until their son or daughter reached 16 in 1992. By 2006, just 7 per cent of couples who were unmarried when their child was born were still cohabiting by their 16th birthday.

This figure excludes those couples who were just living together when their child was born and later got married.

Around three in five couples who stop cohabiting decide to marry. Of these just 17 per cent are still together by the time their child is 16, the report says.

The study, Cohabitation in the 21st Century, from Christian thinktank the Jubilee Centre also shows that the cost of family breakdown is £41.7billion  -  equivalent to £1,350 for every taxpayer each year.

It claims these costs will rise ‘significantly’ over the next 25 years. Its analysis was based on almost 30,000 family cases drawn from a nationwide survey.

It shows that fewer than one in 19 of all couples who live together (5.3 per cent) have been together for ten years or more.

The study also suggests cohabitation does not serve as a trial marriage or reduce the odds of divorce.
Never-married couples who live together before tying the knot are 60 per cent more likely to divorce than those who do not. Dr John Hayward, director of the Jubilee Centre, said: ‘All the evidence suggests that families headed by married, biological parents who have not previously lived together provide the best environment for both the individuals involved and their children. 

‘This has huge personal, social, economic and political consequences for us all.’
Fellow researcher Dr Guy Brandon added: ‘The cost of family breakdown to society, whether parents have cohabited or married, is enormous.

‘Besides the emotional cost, which inevitably has an impact on mental health and economic productivity, the direct costs are estimated at £41.7billion each year  -  the equivalent of £1,350 per taxpayer per year.
‘Given the projected rise in cohabiting couples in England and Wales from 2.25million to 3.7million in the next 20 years, and the clear link between cohabitation and family breakdown, it is fair to expect these costs to rise significantly in coming years.’

In July 2007, the Law Commission published a report highlighting the financial implications for couples who cohabit and then separate.

It suggested rights on separation or death for couples without children who have lived together for at least two years.

The Government has yet to publish its final response to the report.

However, the Lords introduced the Cohabitation Bill in December 2008. It was designed to ensure basic legal rights for cohabiting couples in the event of separation or death.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1252068/Married-parents-provide-stable-family-background-couples-living-together.html#ixzz0fxMNM988


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