California readers may have heard that having a baby before getting married can lead to divorce. However, according to a new study, couples who have a baby before tying the knot stay together just as long as couples who get married before having children.
Researchers from the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families reviewed data on couples who had their first baby between 1985 and 1995 and compared it with couples who had their first baby between 1997 and 2010. During the earlier period, couples who had a baby and then got married were 60 percent more likely to divorce than those who married before having a baby. During the later period, couples who had a baby before marrying experienced no increased risk of divorce. The news wasn't good for all couples, however. Researchers found that 30 percent of parents who lived together but never married separated within five years.
The authors of the study said that their research shows Americans are much more comfortable with the idea of unmarried parents than they used to be. According to sociology experts, couples no longer feel pressured to rush into a shotgun wedding if they find out a baby is on the way. As a result, many couples wait until they believe the time is right to get married. Between 1985 and 2010, the percentage of couples who had a baby before marriage jumped from 17 percent to 35 percent.
A parent who is facing the end of a marriage may benefit by consulting with an attorney. Legal counsel could negotiate a settlement agreement containing child custody and support terms that are in the best interests of the child.