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End Britain’s "divorce addiction" says senior Judge

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A High Court Judge launched a campaign yesterday (30 April) to counteract Britain’s staggering rates of divorce, and to promote the institution of marriage as "the gold standard for relationships." 

Marriage Foundation

Sir Paul Coleridge, who has served in the Family Division for over thirty years, has established the Marriage Foundation to protect children against the negative effects of family breakdown, which he describes as “one of the most destructive scourges of our time.”

The campaign, which is being supported by the former president of the Family Division, Baroness Deech and the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, aims to lobby for marriage-friendly policies and to "strengthen" the institution for "the benefit of children, adults and society as a whole."

Sir Paul stated: "Marriage and family breakdown is one of the most destructive scourges of our time. For that reason, I have, for some years now, been trying to raise the subject whenever I have had the chance to speak publicly on the matter. I am now convinced that it is time not only to talk but to act.”

“We don't traditionally comment on matters of policy, but there are very few people who have had as much experience of what is going on as the family judiciary.

“We have watched it get worse and worse and worse.  The time for sucking our teeth is over. Waiting for government or others to take action is merely an excuse for moaning and inactivity.”

The Judge also told BBC Radio 4 this week that the "impact family breakdown is having on society" was "out of control.”

“The law and the courts have undoubtedly played a part, because in order to manage the enormous flood of cases we have had to streamline the law and the process” he admitted.

“There is no such thing as a defended divorce any longer. We see that the fight is no longer over the divorce itself, but over money and children.”

He stated further that the new campaign was aimed at being “the start of a national movement with the aim of changing attitudes across the board from the very top to the bottom of society, and thus improve the lives of us all, especially children.”

Sir Paul previously sparked controversy by stating that a divorce was easier to obtain than a “driver’s license”, resulting in approximately 3.8 million children being caught up in the family justice system every year.


Figures published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that divorce rates in England and Wales have increased by 5 per cent from 2009 to 2010, with the number of cohabiting couples increasing from a million in 2001 to 2.9 million in 2010. 

The findings also reveal that 22 per cent of marriages in 1970 had ended in divorce by the 15th wedding anniversary, whereas 33 per cent of marriages in 1995 had ended after the same period of time.

Social Justice Strategy

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently launched his Social Justice Strategy Paper, stressing that marriage should be “supported” and “encouraged” in public policy since children have the best chances in life when raised by two “birth parents” in a stable relationship.

He added: “Evidence suggests that children tend to enjoy better life outcomes when the same two parents are able to give them support and protection throughout their childhood.

“Children who have experienced parental relationship breakdown are more likely to have poor cognitive development and education and employment outcomes than those who have lived with both birth parents.

“28 per cent of children in lone parent families live in relative poverty, compared with 17 per cent for couple families.

“When families break down, the consequences can be severe.”

The report also highlights that marriage rates have more than halved in the last 40 years, and that one in three cohabiting parents will now split before their child’s fifth birthday.

The paper will seek to encourage those who have been attempting to get Prime Minister David Cameron to keep his promise of a tax break for married couples.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“The policy of successive governments has undermined marriage and the family in this country. This has formed a battered landscape of unstable and broken relationships, which has caused needless pain to countless couples and particularly to children.

“A growing body of research shows that marriage is best for adults, for children and for society at large.

“Accordingly, we welcome the launch of Sir Paul Coleridge’s Marriage Foundation as it seeks to highlight the existing crisis and promote the benefits of marriage for individuals and for society.”


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Christian Concern: Family