Having children before marriage and the odds of divorce

When most Orange County couples get married, few expect that they will get divorced in the future. Still, many local families transition from a marriage to a divorce or breakup and beyond; in doing so, some parents will find themselves unexpectedly in a child custody dispute. An Orange County family lawyer can aid families in resolving custody disputes with a focus on the child and his or her best interests.

When parents disagree over custody, they often think back to the past and wonder how positive feelings deteriorated over time. Family and friends might offer well-intentioned advice, such as to avoid rushing into a new relationship or taking time for yourself after a divorce. In the past, it was often thought that those who had children before marriage were more likely to get divorced; a study reveals that, while this may have been true before, it is no longer true now.

According to a researcher at New York's Cornell University, today there is less social pressure for couples to get married before having children. As a result, many of today's couples are starting their relationships and family life with or without marriage - thus, having children together before getting married to one another no longer points to the possibility of a higher likelihood of getting divorced.

The study looked at parents who had children between 1985 and 1995, which formed the earlier group, and couples who became parents between 1997 and 2010, the later group. The survey of U.S. women of childbearing age revealed that, in the earlier group, divorce rates were higher. Couples in that group were 60 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who first married and then had children. However, among couples in the latter group, it was found that the higher divorce rate essentially disappeared.

Today, many couples are living together before marriage and many of these couples have children. Whether parents are married or unmarried, they may decide their relationship is no longer sustainable and that raises the issue of child custody. Regardless of the family setup, a child custody attorney can offer invaluable advice about furthering the best interests of the child.