People whose relationships are not stable enough for marriage should not have children, according to a senior High Court family law.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a co-founder of the The Marriage Foundation, suggested adults were confusing rights with responsibilities.
have a responsibility – you have no right to have children, you only
have responsibilities if you have them…In the courts people talk about
their rights – you have no right where children are concerned… what you
have are responsibilities and duties to do the best you can for them,"
he told The Telegraph.
These comments come after research published by the Marriage
Foundation suggested that children of unmarried parents are twice as
likely to see their parents break up compared to married parents.
According to the Office for National Statistics if current trends in
unmarried parenting continue, over half of all babies born in the UK in
2016 will have unmarried parents.
"There is this idea out there that it doesn't make any difference
whether you cohabit or marry, [to which I say] no it doesn't - except
that one tends to last and the other tends not to last… when you are
considering what is best for children, stability is the name of the
game," he said.
This view was borne out recently by research from the Jubilee Centre,
with data suggesting that a cohabiting couple is ten times less likely
to remain together until a child is 16 when compared to a married
Despite potential appearances, Sir Paul insisted he was not trying to
"preach morality", nor was he saying that all prospective parents
should be married or be preparing to marry. "I don't think they should
have children until they are sure that their relationship is stable
enough to cope with the stresses and strains."
Sir Paul has previously commented on the "high level of ignorance" in
the British political establishment about the benefits of marriage, as
well as the "yawning public ignorance" on the mental effects on children
who have regularly conflicting parents, arguing that all prospective
couples planning on getting married should have "relationships
education" pre-emptively, rather than relying on marriage guidance and
counselling once damage has been done.
Unless modern couples can learn to respect "self-imposed boundaries"
the UK could be facing "social anarchy" with children the biggest
The Judge's expression of other views has meant he has been placed
under investigation. He could potentially be officially censured after
criticising the Government's push for same-sex marriage legislation
rather than tackling what he called the "crisis of family breakdown".
He is planning to step down soon, largely because of the lack of support for his views among the judiciary more widely.
Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice, said: "A
lot of people don't realise that long-term cohabitation with children is
really rare – most people with children who are still together after
many years are married.
"Long-term results show that there is something different about being
married, it is more stable. People are bound together when they are
married in a way that they are not if they are just living together."