Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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30bn ($42bn U.S.) cost of families falling apart
BY KIRSTY WALKER
SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
The Daily Express U.K.

DIVORCE is costing taxpayers an average of 11 ($15 U.S.) a week each, a report claims today. The breakdown of the traditional family has left society facing an annual bill of 30 billion - putting an intolerable strain on the national purse.

The biggest burden is welfare payments for children and single parents, which amounts to just under 9 billion a year. But the report, commissioned by the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, found that family breakdown also has a huge impact on the criminal justice system, education and health budgets, and on the economy. Apart from the social consequences, the report says divorce also takes its toll on parents and children. It claims: "The whole of society is affected by the social consequences of family breakdown.

"It impairs the health of the nation, reduces the educational achievement of children, increases the crime rate and puts an enormous burden on the national economy.

"The family is in crisis and family breakdown is widespread. Few people do not know someone whose family has been affected by separation, divorce, cohabitation or single parenthood. Each failed relationship produces pain and emotional hurt, creating an incalculable cost in human misery." Earlier research put the estimated direct cost of family breakdown at between 4 billion and 10 billion a year, but the new study says this is now more like 15 billion.

When the indirect costs are taken into account, such as greater demands for housing, dealing with truancy in schools and reduced productivity in the workplace, this figure doubles.

The bill for legal aid and dealing with crime and domestic violence is put at nearly 3 billion. The NHS has to pay out an extra 1.5 billion to deal with such problems as alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases and other illnesses linked to the breakdown of a marriage, while schools have to find an extra 500 million for staff to help low achievers.

The report, by the Christian group Family Matters, says children who grow up in broken homes are more likely to suffer poor health and to have emotional and behavioural problems.

Author David Lindsay said: "They have higher rates of suicide and they are more frequently involved in drug abuse and crime. Half of all young offenders come from broken homes. They also perform badly at school, are less likely to go on to further education and more likely to get low paid jobs.

"They are twice as likely to suffer divorce or relationship breakdown in adult life than children from intact families." There were 145,000 divorces in Britain in 1998 and this affected just over 150,000 children. According the Office for National Statistics, nearly half of all marriages are now estimated to end in the law courts.

The Family Matters report adds that the direct 15billion annual cost of divorce equates to about a third of Government expenditure on education, just over a quarter of what it spends on the NHS, or the combined total that is spent on industry, agriculture, and employment.

It calls on the Government to make a stand and take action to support the institution of marriage.

The report says: "Although taking a more proactive stance in support of the marriage-based family would undoubtedly arouse a degree of controversy, the Government could acknowledge clearly that marriage and the family have been and remain important to people, and that it should therefore buttress these institutions."The Government could lead public opinion to help change perceptions and priorities - in particular those of the chattering classes."
Express Newspapers, 2000

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