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Having children before marriage no longer affects divorce risk

In years past, the stigma attached to having a child out of wedlock was so strong that pregnant women often had to quickly marry the men who impregnated them, just to avoid this result. In other cases, unmarried women were forced to give up their children to adoption.

Today, being an unmarried parent is no longer taboo. Just as couples living together before marriage is not unusual or shocking in 2015, neither is a couple not waiting to get married before having children. And it does not appear that children of cohabiting but unmarried parents suffer any disadvantage.

USA TODAY recently reported on a study of the effect having children has on divorce. Researchers with the Council on Contemporary Families looked at data for women who had their first child between 1985 and 1995, and those who first became mothers between 1997 and 2010.

In the first group, couples who had a child and got married later were 60 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who married before becoming parents. But the divorce rate was virtually the same in the second group.

Changing attitudes about out-of-wedlock births could be affecting this trend. Many couples who got pregnant in the 1980s were pressured into getting married later, even if marriage was not a good fit. This could have inflated the divorce rate.

Meanwhile, more recently, many couples purposely choose to have a child before getting married. Childbirth before marriage nearly doubled from the 1985-95 era to the 1997-2010 period, shooting up to 35 percent.

Of course, when a cohabiting couple breaks up, there is no need for a divorce, but if the couple has children, child custody, visitation time and child support may need arranging. This is possible with the help of a family law attorney.

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