Half of British parents separate even before their children reach the age of 16, discloses a new study.
The research found the collapse of cohabiting relationships, rather than divorce, is to blame for the rise in family breakdown, and it called for the government to "reassert marriage" and help strengthen the relationships of unmarried new parents.n analysis of official figures showed the number of children who will face family breakdown has soared from 40 percent to 48 percent over the last decade.
The report, carried out jointly by the Centre for Social Justice think tank and the Bristol Community Family Trust, found that family breakdown costs taxpayers 20 billion pounds every year.
While more than half of children are born to married parents, divorce accounts for just one in five family break-ups for the under fives - and just 14 percent of the costs.
"Of every 7 pounds spent on family breakdown among young families (by the taxpayer), 1 pound is spent on divorce, 4 pounds is spent on unmarried dual registered parents who separate and 2 pounds is spent on sole registered parents," the Daily Mail quoted the report as saying.
"In other words, the problem is not divorce. While marriage accounts for 54 percent of births, the failure of marriages - i.e. divorce - accounts for only 20 percent of break-ups and 14 percent of the costs of family breakdown, among all families with children under five," it stated.
Harry Benson, director of the BCFT and the report's author, urged the Government to do more to support young couples with training and relationship counselling.
"The key issue is how to improve stability of unmarried parents. Much of the breakdown within this group is utterly avoidable," he said.
"Strengthening couples who are unmarried new parents means reasserting the importance of marriage and commitment," he added.