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Monday 30th April 2012 | 11:19
A major new campaign to champion the institution of marriage will be launched on Tuesday 1st May, by High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge.
Sir Paul, says he has decided to act out of his belief that only a popular, grassroots counter-offensive can restore marriage to its central place in British society.
The campaign is being unveiled against a backdrop of declining marriage rates, increasing cohabitation and high rates of relationships breakdown with unprecedented numbers of children and adults being dragged into the family law and justice system and the growing cost of family breakdown in the UK, estimated at £44 billion per year.
The Marriage Foundation, an independent charity, will champion marriage as the gold standard for relationships and set out a raft of policies aimed at strengthening the institution.
It will campaign to improve the public understanding of the nature, benefits and importance of marriage, and how healthy married relationships provide the most stable environment in which to raise children. And it will support a series of practical measures to reverse the growing instability of family life.
The launch at Middle Temple Hall at 6 pm on Tuesday May 1 will be attended by more than 300 supporters, many of whom are drawn from the legal profession. Prominent supporters include the Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baroness Shackleton, Baroness Deech, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Lord Justice Toulson.
Sir Paul says:
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.
Waiting for government or others to take action is merely an excuse for moaning and inactivity.
This is not going to be a cosy club for the smug and self satisfied of middle England but, we hope, 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. A national trust in the true sense.
At the launch Sir Paul will set out the scale of the problem in the UK, drawing on his 40 years of experience in the family law system. He will say that around half a million children and adults are drawn into the family law and justice system every year.
He says that it is folly to ignore the facts around the importance of family structure. The most stable family structure to raise children is within marriage. Just one in eleven married couples split by a childs fifth birthday, compared with one in three cohabiting couples.
And he points out that the children growing up in single parent homes are more likely to live in poverty, become involved in the criminal justice system and fail at school.
If this is not bad enough then consider this, the financial cost to society of broken relationships is estimated to be £44 billion a year.
Sir Paul adds that despite this wealth of evidence successive governments have failed to back marriage either financially, politically, or through the provision of relationship support.
He will conclude by saying that the Marriage Foundation is not interested in preaching or passing moral judgements on those who take a contrary view.
Divorce is sometimes unavoidable, but more and stronger marriages will ultimately benefit society in general and the individuals within them.