People in unstable marriages should not have children, says judge
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.
"You 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 couple.
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 victims.
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."