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Unmarried parents face no increased divorce risk

Virginia couples who had their first child before getting married have no increased risk of divorce, one study finds. Researchers at the Council on Contemporary Families aggregated data from families in two separate time groups, the first including women who had their first child between 1985 and 1995 and the second including women who gave birth to their first child between 1997 and 2010. What researchers found was that as the stigma of having a child before marriage has lessened over time, the rates of divorce between couples who had their first child before marriage have also declined.

The study found that those who had children before marriage in the earlier time period were 60 percent more likely than their married peers to end their marriage. In the second time period, couples who had their first children prior to marriage were no more likely to get a divorce than their counterparts who waited. One professor suggested that the stigma of having a child without being married created significant pressure on the lives of those earlier parents.

The researchers examined data drawn from thousands of CDC surveys. Other findings of note included the fact that the rate of couples having children before marriage almost doubled from 17 to 35 percent between groups. The study also found that 30 percent of couples who lived together without ever getting married separated within five years.

Parents who have young children and whose marriages are ending find themselves dealing with such complex issues as child support and custody arrangements in addition to other divorce legal issues. A family law attorney may be able to help a divorcing parent negotiate a comprehensive settlement agreement that addresses these matters and which can be approved by the court.

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