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Child out of wedlock does not increase divorce risk

A recent study found that having a child before getting married does not increase the risk of a couple getting divorced later on. Maryland residents who might be in a similar situation and concerned about the risks of divorce might be interested in the findings of the study.

According to the Council on Contemporary Families' study, couples who had their first child before marriage between 1997 and 2010 did not have an increased risk of divorce compared to couples who waited to get married before they had their first child. This is a significant change from the data researchers collected from couples who had their first child before marriage between 1985 and 1995 and who were 60 percent more likely to divorce later on than couples who were married before their first child was born during the same period.

Experts attribute the difference to the changing attitudes in society. In the 1985 to 1995 period, couples felt more pressure to agree to shotgun weddings if the woman got pregnant before marriage. The changing attitudes have allowed couples to relax and wait to marry later, perhaps until they are both better prepared for the marriage. And the percentage of couples having children before marriage has also increased from 17 percent in the 1985 to 1995 period to 35 percent in the 1997 to 2010 period. Researchers did find an exception when it came to separation after having a child before marriage. Couples who did not ever get married and only continued to live together had a 30 percent chance of separating within five years.

If parents of young children do decide to get divorced, the considerations for child custody would still be the same regardless of whether the children were born before or after the marriage. A family law attorney can advise a parent who is in this situation that the court wil still consider the best interest of the child involved when making a determination on the issue.

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