Couples seeking a divorce should have a compulsory three-month “cooling off” period first, according to a leading social policy think tank.
It also recommends marriage classes before tying the knot and counselling to help prevent marriages from breaking down.
The suggestions come in a new report produced by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) which is run by former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith.
The report, entitled Every Family Matters, urges couples to explore the possibility of reconciliation before starting divorce proceedings.
It recommends a number of ways to reform family law to “save saveable marriages”, maintaining that marriage “is of paramount importance to individuals, children, communities and our nation.”
It calls for tax breaks for married couples and new policies to encourage marriage over cohabitation.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “Instead of giving cohabitees similar legal rights as married couples, which would only undermine marriage, we have to do more to warn people that they can only secure the legal protection of marriage by getting married.
“The cooling off period and the requirement for estranged couples to receive information about the implications of divorce will help to save some worthwhile marriages.”
Last month a Government-commissioned report revealed that children whose parents separate are likely to suffer “enduring” problems with their education, mental health and future relationships.
The report looked at the impact of family breakdown and cited behavioural problems, gaining fewer educational qualifications, needing more medical treatment, becoming pregnant at an early age and turning to drugs, alcohol or smoking, as possible negative consequences.
Leading family lawyer Mr Justice Coleridge warned last month that an “epidemic” of family breakdown is ‘infecting’ children.
To stem the tide, marriage should be affirmed as the “gold standard” of relationships, he said.