Written evidence from Timothy Irwin [HAB0285]
The public, lifelong, commitment made in wedding vows gives families much greater stability and permanence. Parental separation is far higher for cohabitation than for marriage. In excess of half of children of cohabiting parents will experience their parents’ separation by the age of five, compared with only 15 per cent for children of married parents. Family breakdown is increasing and exceedingly expensive for society, costing the public purse over £50bn each year. This will only worsen if the special legal status of marriage is not maintained and promoted.
Marriage benefits physical and mental health. Research shows smoking and drug use is lower in married women than those cohabiting, and married men have better heart health and cancer survival rates. These Health benefits of marriage are not only at an individual level but at a national level in terms of demands on the NHS.
Creating another additional relationship status is completely unnecessary. Extending rights to an extra ‘cohabiting’ group undermines marriage and creates confusion. There are no difficulties that cohabiting couples can’t already address through other means. Inheritance concerns can be dealt with by writing a will, for example.