Overall, two thirds of women who get married and have children remain with the father for life. Among women who never marry, just one in ten will avoid splitting from their partner.

A report from the think tank dedicated to building stronger families, The Marriage Foundation, has found a stark division between teenagers predicted to marry and those who will never tie the knot.

The huge variance in odds of family breakdown between married and unmarried is even clearer with the younger generation.

Far fewer 20 year olds are predicted to marry than the previous generation. Only 52 per cent of 20 year olds will marry compared to 68 per cent of 40 year olds.

This is despite the fact 75 per cent of teenagers want to get married at some stage.

Of the 52 per cent of 20 year old women predicted to at some stage marry and have children, 34 per cent will have avoided the breakup of their family by their child’s fifteenth birthday.

This compares starkly to only 5 per cent of the 48 per cent of 20 year olds who will never marry staying with their partners until their child hit their mid-teens.

Author of the Marriage Foundation report, Harry Benson, commented: “This is bleak news for the next generation. Despite the fact that the huge majority of teenagers want to get married, only half will do so.

“They themselves will miss out of the greater stability marriage provides, but the ramifications will be felt most by their own children, who face high odds of growing up without a mother or father at home.

“Single parents do an astonishing job, bringing up children single-handedly, but I think few people would choose this situation for themselves or suggest that it is easier for the children.

“Moreover the process of family breakdown is very damaging for all concerned. Children from broken families are more likely to be involved in truancy, juvenile delinquency, joblessness and depression.

“Currently family breakdown costs the Exchequer around £46 billion a year. That’s the equivalent to the entire defence budget. I don’t see how the country will afford the steep rise of this bill that this increase of broken families will bring over the next few years.”

The previous generation, now in their forties, were much more likely to get married. They have remained in an intact couple throughout their children’s adolescence in far greater numbers.

Of the 68 per cent of 40 year olds who have married or will marry at some stage, 45 per cent will still be married to the father when their child completes their GCSE exams.

For the 32 per cent of forty year old women who will never marry, only 3 per cent who have children will remain with the father until their child reaches fifteen.

Sir Paul Coleridge, Chairman of the Marriage Foundation commented: “I am profoundly saddened looking at these forecast outcomes for the next generation.

“Forty years spent working in the family courts has shown me the sheer pain and human suffering of family breakdown for everyone concerned – the children and parents obviously, but also aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends.

“I fear it will only get worse as fewer and fewer children will know what it is to have stable, married parents at home as they grow up. We are facing a crisis of confidence in the institution of marriage.

“We must do something to stem the tide of family breakdown. A boost to the currently pitiful married tax allowance in next month’s Autumn Statement would be a good start.”


Notes to editors:

See the full report here.

For media inquiries please contact Beatrice Timpson on 07803 726 977.

Harry Benson is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.

The Marriage Foundation was founded by Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court Judge, moved by his personal experience in 40 years as a barrister and judge specialising in family law. The Foundation seeks to improve public understanding of marriage reduce the numbers of people drawn into the family justice system – some 500,000 children and adults each year.

The Foundation has highlighted the crisis of family breakdown. Their research has found that a child born today only has a 50 per cent chance of living with both parents by the time they reach fifteen.

Foundation research has also found that 93 percent of parents who stay together until their child’s fifteenth birthday are married.