Having a baby out of wedlock does not spell divorce later

According to research from the Council on Contemporary Families, in the past, women who had their first baby before marriage were more likely to get a divorce than women who got married first. However, California women may be happy to hear that this is no longer the case.

The researchers compared data involving women who had their first child from 1985 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2010. During the earlier period, those who had a baby and then tied the knot were 60 percent more likely to divorce than those who married first. During the second period, there was no increase in the rate of divorce.

There are great differences between pregnancies and marriage during the two analyzed periods. From 1985 to 1995, 17 percent of women had a child out of wedlock. This increased to 35 percent during the later period. The exception, however, was that 30 percent of parents who had a baby out of wedlock and remained unmarried but lived together broke up within five years. The study overseer says that socio-demographic aspects were controlled, including income and education levels. Couples who lived together and had their first child typically had lower education and income levels, she said. It could be, she added, that this less fortunate group is less likely to get married.

Over the past 25 years, the shame of having a child out of wedlock has greatly subsided, says a University of Washington sociology professor. He explains that couples do not rush into getting married if they become pregnant. Instead, he continued, they move into that commitment at their own pace, possibly because of pressures in their lives.

Whether or not a couple is married, the child has a right to financial support from both parents and to spend time with both parents. Family disputes could arise in which the mother wants support for the child or the father wants to have a close a relationship with the child. Parents in these or other situations could ask family law attorneys for help.

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