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Divorce rates and having a baby before marriage

New Jersey parents may be interested in a recent study that shows that having a baby before getting married no longer increases a couple's chance of later divorcing. This represents a significant change from the high divorce rates that previously existed for such marriages.

The study was completed by the Council on Contemporary Families. Researchers reviewed surveys compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on women who had had their first child between 1985 and 1995, and compared them to those who had had their first child between 1997 and 2010. Couples who had a baby before getting married in the earlier group had a 60 percent greater likelihood of divorcing than those who waited until after they were wed.

During the second study period, couples who had a baby prior to marriage had no greater chance of divorcing than those who waited. Researchers believe this drop in the rate of divorce is largely due to a reduction in stigma associated with cohabiting before marriage. This is reflected by the study results showing that the rate of having children prior to marriage increased from 17 percent to 35 percent between the two time periods studied.

Regardless of the timing of their choice to have a child, some parents will end up facing the end of a marriage for a variety of reasons. Those whose children are young when the decision is made to file for a divorce will have to deal with issues of child custody and support in addition to property division and, in some cases, alimony. A family law attorney can outline the various alternatives to a parent who is in this type of a situation.

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