Kids of married parents perform better socially and at school than their peers, a study claims.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies report, marriage has a positive effect on a child's learning and development because married couples tend to be better educated, are more likely to be employed and have a better financial base.
"Parents in de facto relationships are more likely to separate than married families and that is shown to have an impact on a child's development," Adelaide Now quoted co-author Lixia Qu as saying.
"A child's well being and behaviour and cognitive development can be affected by a separation, particularly when there is arguing, violence or other issues.
She said that married couples had a more consistent approach to setting behavioural examples and their children interacted better with others.
Her team collected data from nearly 5000 Australian children, from the time they were aged about four to nine.
They found 31 per cent of the married mothers had a university degree or higher level of education compared with 15 per cent of single and cohabiting mothers, who tended to have children at a younger age.
She said a family's financial circumstances were clearly very important for the well being of the children.
"De facto parent families were slightly worse off financially than married parent families but slightly better off than families headed by single mothers."
She said the gap between single mothers and their married counterparts had widened over the time of the study.
"Bringing up children is a hard job and on your own it's even harder because you don't have another person there for support, financially or emotionally," she added.