UK Parenting and Family Trends

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Over recent times there have been many changes in the way that families work. Families come in many shapes and sizes these days. There are married couples with or without children, cohabiting couples with or without children, and single parents.

Family Trends

Less people are getting married these days and over recent decades the number of people getting divorced has risen sharply. The make-up of families with children has changed significantly since the mid 1980ís. In the mid 80ís 83% of household with children consisted of a married couple. This had fallen to 67% by the mid 1990ís and is now under half of all families (albeit only just under at 49%). The number of cohabiting parents (those who live together but arenít married) has increased massively. In the 1980ís they accounted for only 5% of all families, which had risen to 11% a decade later and to 18% a further ten years on. Families with only one parent have also increased; from 12% to 22% between the 1980ís and 1990ís and up to 33% now. Over a quarter of a century there has been a noticeable shift with a sharp fall in the percentage of families with two married parents which is now only 69% of what it was in the 1980ís. Both cohabiting couples with children and single parent families have increase over this period; cohabiting parents have increase more than three times over with single parent families rising by 57%.


Births Inside and Outside of Marriage

There has also been a significant change in the number of births inside and outside of marriage. In 1990 72% of births were to children of married parents. This had fallen to 61% by 2000 and is now only just over half of all children (52%).

Single Parent Types

The number of single parent families has been on the increase. The vast majority of single parents are Mothers. According to 2005 statistics, 9% of single parents are single Mothers who have never been married to their childís Father. 6% are divorced Mothers and 4% separated Mothers. Only 1% of single parents are Fathers.

Couples with No Children

As well as changes in the shape of families with children, there has also been an increase in couples who choose not to have children. Between the early 1970ís and the mid 2000ís the percentage of couples without children rose from 19% to 25%.

Fewer people are married now than ever before. There are two basic reasons for this. The first of these is that fewer people are choosing to marry. Couples living together without getting married is generally seen as more acceptable and more are choosing to do this. People are putting off getting married, either altogether or waiting until later in life. The other reason for less people in marriage is the divorce rate, which has increased dramatically over the past few decades.


Gone are the days of a typical family unit. People choose to live in all sorts of ways and society consists of families of many different types.

Andrew Marshall (c)

Steel and Shamash are Family Solicitors London.


Stone King are Divorce Solicitors Bath.


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