In previous decades, societal norms dictated that men and women marry before having children. Those women, who did have children out of wedlock, often did so alone and were forced to raise a child as a single parent. Today, there's been a major shift in how couples in the U.S. view and approach marriage.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that today an estimated one in four children in the U.S. are born to cohabitating parents. 2013 data shows that 40 percent of U.S. children are born to unwed mothers. More recent data indicates that 59 percent "of all births outside marriage" are to women who are cohabitating with their baby's father.
Researchers and sociologists believe the increase in births to unmarried and cohabitating couples is reflective of changing views about marriage. For many couples today, marriage is not a precursor or requirement for parenthood. Additionally, many unmarried and cohabitating couples point to financial barriers to marriage and those who do want to eventually marry often want to ensure they are financially sound prior to tying the knot.
There's also concern among sociologists who reference research that indicates that "cohabitating parents are more likely to split up." Child custody matters between unmarried parents can be more complex and contentious. This is especially true in cases where an unmarried father failed to establish paternity upon a child's birth. Additionally, child custody and support matters can become further complicated if there are additional children born out of wedlock and to different mothers.
Fort Lauderdale parents who are unmarried and dealing with child custody disputes, would be wise to contact a family law attorney. An attorney who handles family law and child custody and support matters can provide legal advice and assistance to help families find solutions to challenging child custody issues.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Sees Rise in Unmarried Parents," Neil Shah, March 10, 2015