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Baby Before Marriage No Longer Increases Divorce Risk

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Divorce

baby before marriage, divorce, Illinois divorce attorneyConsider a common scenario: a young couple, dating but not engaged, suddenly discovers that they are going to have a baby. They certainly have options, but depending upon their age, maturity level and decision-making skills, they may not be able clearly think through the various possibilities. So, they inform their families.  Just a few generations ago, and to an extent, probably even now, the families were likely to respond with some variation of "I assume you are going to do the right thing," heavily implying that marriage should obviously be the plan. This type of social pressure and the stigma of having a baby before marriage has, for many years, led to an increase the risk of divorce for such couples. Recent studies suggest, however, that this is not the case anymore.

Long-Term Research

Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan conducted a study published last month in the journal Demography. Led by Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, the team closely examined child-bearing couples in two separate periods, from 1985 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2010. What they found was that the landscape of marriage, relationships, and childbirth has drastically changed in a relative short span of time.

In the earlier period, couples who had a child prior to getting married were found to be 60 percent more likely to get divorced those who married first. In the second group, not much more than 10 years later, the increased risk disappeared. The likelihood of divorce was about equal for married parents regardless of whether the child came before the marriage or vice versa.

Lower Emphasis on Marriage

One of the factors that Musick identified as possibly contributing to the change is increased social acceptance of cohabitation, which has, in turn, led to a lower overall marriage rate. It also means that more and more couple are seeing their cohabitation arrangements, especially with the addition of children as a family unit. There is little rush to get married, and if they do decide to marry, they are not generally doing so based on having a child. Thus, the risk of divorce is no different parents who married before having children.

The study did indicate, on the other hand, that those parents who were getting divorced before may have simply shifted their relationships away from legally recognized unions. Cohabitating parents were found to be twice as likely to separate than their married counterparts were to divorce. The overall breakdown rate of relationships was relatively unchanged between the two periods, suggesting that while the stability of parenting couples is still the same, the way in which they define their relationship is much different.

If you are a parent who is considering divorce, you need to fully understand how the process will affect both you and your children. Contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney today to get the help you need. You can rely on the knowledgeable team at A. Traub & Associates to provide the responsible representation you deserve.


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