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Region: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Types of Family in the UK Today

The UK has traditionally been a nation of extended families. Whilst extended families still exist today, society has changed dramatically over the previous 100 years, and with it the shape of the family. There are five family types recognised in the UK today. These are:

Extended Family

An extended family is one in which a group of relatives live close to each other, for example, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents all living in the same town or even the same household.

Nuclear Family

A nuclear family is one that consists of a couple and their children, who don't have close family living nearby. In an age of social mobility, ease of travel, plus opportunities for employment arising in different parts of the country, the nuclear family unit has become a very common type of family in the UK today.

Single-parent Family

This is a unit where children are raised by one parent. The children may have regular contact with the absent parent, but the main care is in the hands of the parent the children live with. Changes to UK divorce laws, plus social attitudes towards divorce and relationships, have led to an increase in single-parent families. The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 marked a significant change. It enabled people to end marriages that had 'irretrievably broken down' without having to prove fault, making it much easier for couples to get divorced.

Blended Family

Also known as a step-family, this family type is where the couple has children from previous relationships living with them. The changes to divorce laws and attitudes to divorce, remarriage and relationships, has led to an increase in reconstituted families in the UK.

Family With Same-sex Parents

This family type is one where each parent is of the same sex. The children from this type of family are either adopted or from a surrogate or sperm donor. However, children may also be from one of the parent's previous relationships. The growth of this type of family has been significant due to changing attitudes in society and new laws. Civil partnerships were legalised in 2005, followed by the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2014.