We write often about custody and support issues relevant to North Florida couples who are going through the divorce process. However, child custody and child support issues are often just as challenging to navigate for those parents who have never been married.
The number of parents whose children were conceived outside of marriage is growing. In fact, a recent study indicates that in America today, more than 50 percent of children born to women under the age of 30 are conceived outside of marriage.
The study did not focus on the issues that these unmarried mothers face. Though for many, struggles to obtain proper child support certainly factor into their daily challenges. Rather, the study examined who these unmarried new mothers are.
Age itself is telling, as older mothers are married when their children are born at markedly higher rates. College graduates overall also tend to bear children when married in larger numbers than younger women generally. Over 90 percent of women with college degrees are married when their children are born.
Women bearing children outside of marriage tend to live with their partners. This seems to indicate that many committed couples perceive financial and emotional advantages to bearing children outside marriage.
Also, there are racial and economic divides among women who choose to have children but forego marriage. Nearly three quarters of black children, just over 50 percent of Latino children and nearly a third of white children are born to unmarried parents.
There are many reasons why women choose to bear children outside of marriage. However, the rising rates of young women who make this choice may speak to a shift in the ways we as a society perceive parenthood, marriage and family overall.
Source: New York Times, "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage," Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, Feb. 17, 2012
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