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Family Stability Review Recommendations


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Published 6th March 2014

The first recommendations in response to Iain Duncan-Smith’s Family Stability Review, launched to gather ideas on how to keep families together, have now been published. The Marriage Foundation, founded by High Court Family Judge Sir Paul Coleridge, has said that the government should encourage marriage and try harder to get couples to stay together while their children are young.

Their report said that a drive to persuade couples to marry rather than simply live together would help combat high break-up rates since cohabiting couples account for half of all family breakdown.

The report also said that 50% of family breakdown happens before a couple’s child reaches its second birthday, but once couples reach the ten-year mark, outside factors seem to have less effect on whether they stay together. State spending should therefore concentrate on families with young children, as this is when family relationships are under the greatest pressure.

The Marriage Foundation’s Harry Benson said: ‘There is little point in the Government attempting to improve the stability of established marriages. Approximately as many married couples who stuck it out between 1960 and 1970 are still together as those who married in 2000 and made it to 2010, despite the many social and cultural changes in that period.

What we need to do instead is to encourage couples considering having a family to marry and then support them through the trouble-filled early stages. If they can make their marriage work for ten years, their children will have an 80 per cent chance of their family staying together for good.’

Mr Benson recognised that many people object to the government trying to influence personal decisions, but felt that currently the government is discouraging commitment: ‘Currently, there is a couple penalty on all partners who share a home. It can cost parents with one child up to £7,100 a year in lost tax credits the moment they move into together. So the Government is incentivising couples not to commit. Meanwhile it is spending more than the entire defence budget on the costs of family breakdown, £46billion including court fees, child truancy, juvenile delinquency and related incidents of crime.

No less important is the unseen personal impact on the lives of our young people. The effects of family instability in early years continue to be felt decades later.

It may be difficult politically to be seen to favour married couples, but the focus should be on children and giving parents incentives to create the most stable possible environment for bringing up their families.’

Written by James Haworth

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Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-03-21 14:18:37 in Legal Articles

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