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UK women increasingly looking to IVF: new figures

Increasing numbers of women over 40 in the UK are having recourse to IVF treatment, mainly due to couples delaying having children.

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Unmarried couples cannot adopt, Northern Ireland High Court rules

An attempt to get Northern Irish law to recognise unmarried couples as prospective adoptive parents has failed in the Court of Appeal. The case was brought by an unmarried couple, named X and Y in court and X's child, a 10 year old girl, named as P.

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Ban schools from promoting marriage, say UK academics.

Schools should be prohibited from teaching the benefits of traditional marriages compared to alternative lifestyles, according to top UK academics. Members of the University and College Union (UCU) representing 120,000 lecturers are calling for new legislation to stop teachers telling children that marriage is superior to gay partnerships. This would apply to all teachers, including staff in faith schools.

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Tax exempt status of Northern Ireland under threat from new legislation

New legislation is set to threaten the tax-exempt charity status of churches across Northern Ireland , it has been claimed.

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Married people at less risk of depression, research shows

Marriage helps improve the mental health of those suffering from depression, a new study has found. This remains true even though marriage quality is poorer for depressed individuals. The study compares two sets of people suffering from depression, those who remain single, and those who recently married. It found that after five years of marriage the second group exhibited fewer signs of depression than the first.

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Huge increase in households without children, Census reveals

There has been a major increase in the number of Irish households without children, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show. A majority of households in the State (52 per cent) now have no children.

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“Marriage gap” creating growing inequality in US, says Economist

A widening gulf in attitudes towards marriage is accentuating America's growing inequality problem, according to a feature influential magazine the Economist. Divorce rates among college-educated women have plummeted, the article says.

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Divorce hurts men's health, Canadian research shows

Men suffer more than women from divorce and marital breakdown, according to new Canadian research. Canadian government statistics showed that both men and women whose marriages have dissolved have a higher risk of being depressed than people who remained with their spouses.

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Couples postponing marriage for longer, new figures show

Couples are putting off getting married for longer, according to new Census figures. Spouses are now getting married later into their 30s and more are having civil marriages, the latest data from the Central Statistics Office shows.

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Record number of children in US born to cohabiting parents: report

The number of children born to parents who are unmarried but cohabiting is at a record level, says a study released today by a nonprofit research group. More than half the children who were born outside marriage had both parents in the home, Child Trends researchers said in their new paper.

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Single parent group to lobby for “family diversity day”

One Parent Exchange and Network (OPEN), a group representing single parents in Ireland, are to lobby the Government to establish May 15th as “Family Diversity Day” May 15th is currently the United Nations Designated Day of Families.

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European women having fewer children than they would like: report

European women would like to have more babies, according to a survey by the European Commission.

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US divorce rate lowest since 1970

The rate of divorce in the US, which climbed dramatically during and after the 1960s, has dropped to its lowest levels since 1970, according to figures released earlier this month by the National Center for Health Statistics.

From a peak of 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981, the number of Americans divorcing has dropped by a third, to 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people, the lowest rate in over 35 years.

However, expert opinion is divided on the real reason behind the decline in divorce. Some experts believe that an increase in cohabitation is the reason, others that it is a rise in living standards, still others that it is growing gender equality, while some suggest better marriage guidance counselling is a reason.

The number of couples who live together without marrying has increased tenfold in the US since 1960 and some commentators suggest that those who would otherwise have been prone to divorce and now not marrying at all, but are cohabiting instead.

Others have argued that economic factors are behind the recent fall in divorce. Andrew Cherlin, a lecturer in public policy in Johns Hopkins University, says that an increase in income for two income families has contributed to the new figures. "Families with two earners with good jobs have seen an improvement in their standard of living, which leads to less tension at home and lower probability of divorce," Cherlin says.

Other experts, however, are heartened by what they view as the increased determination of many couples to make marriage work. Among them is Bill Chausee of Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, which offers marriage-strengthening programs in a state where divorces dropped more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2005.

"People don't see marriage problems as some sort of stigma any more," said Chausee. "They're really interested in learning how to stay married; a lot of them are realising they need more skill."

The Bush administration's Healthy Marriage initiative has disbursed more than $200 million nationwide in the past five years. Bill Coffin, the Department of Health and Human Services' special assistant for marriage education, is convinced the programs are a factor in the declining divorce rate.

"The word is getting out that marriage doesn't have to be a crap shoot - it's not the luck of the draw," Coffin said. "It's how you deal with the inevitable conflict and anger in marriage."

He subscribes to the theory that better-educated, wealthier couples have better odds of success in marriage.

"What we're doing is making sure the poor have access to some help and support," Coffin said. "So many people never heard of marriage education before."

Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., agrees. She says divorces are dropping in the college-educated sector because many spouses "are learning how to negotiate marriages based on less rigid gender roles than in the past."

"College-educated wives are more likely to work than less-educated wives, and a recent study found that unlike the past, a wife's work now tends to stabilise marriage," she said.


World Congress of Families hears of threats to family

Over 3000 delegates attended the World Congress of Families in Warsaw last weekend where they heard speakers highlight current legal and other threats to marriage.

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“Lip service” being paid to denominational schools, says Church of Ireland Archbishop

The State is paying lip service to religious schools, according to the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill. Department of Education requests that denominational schools double in size almost overnight are endangering the Protestant ethos of his Church's schools.

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Religious freedom still threatened around the world: US State Department

Eleven countries have been designated by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as engaging in “systematic violations of religious freedom”. The Commission has recommended that Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam be designated by the US State Department as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs).

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Marriage and the family: a summary of the main parties' positions

With the election just weeks away, here is a summary of the policies of some of the main parties on the questions of tax individualisation, civil partnership and family issues.

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New French President attacks “immorality” of 1968, supports religion

Nicolas Sarkozy, winner of Sunday's French Presidential elections, has signaled his intent to put morality at the heart of public debate. Last week, as he rallied his supporters in the final week of this bitterly contested election, he dared to criticise one of the most cherished memories of the French Left: the student demonstrations of 1968.

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It's official: Stay-at-home mums worth their weight in gold

Research has confirmed what many have known for some time: the work done by housewives is worth a small fortune.

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Ongoing clash between secularists and Islamic democrats

Clashes between Turkey's secularist bureaucratic and military elite and its Islamic ruling Justice and Development party, the AKP, are continuing to convulse the country.

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Article 7. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.