A declining U.S. marriage rate will complicate child custody and support matters

In previous decades, the majority of children in the U.S. grew up in two-parent homes and were expected to marry themselves and raise children. In more recent years, there's been a noticeable shift in how society and especially young people view marriage and its importance.

Individuals in the U.S. who are currently ages 18 to 34 are referred to as the millennial generation. According to the Pew Research Center, this year the number of millennials will climb to 75.3 million, making them the most populous generation in U.S. history. With the youngest of millennials approaching their twenties, it stands to reason that a significant percentage will soon marry and have children. Researchers caution, however, that collectively, marriage is not on the minds of many millennials.

Based on the research and findings of the forecasting firm Demographic Intelligence, next year the U.S. marriage rate will fall to a record low number. While in the wake of World War II, the U.S. marriage rate soared to 16.4 per 1,000, in 2016, it's expected to dip to just 6.7 per 1,000.

Researchers cite several reasons for the declining U.S. marriage rate including the fact that, according to the Pew Research Center, today more women than men are enrolling in college. As women gain more financial independence, many are busy pursuing their own career goals and aren't in any rush to walk down the aisle.

Additionally, researchers note that societal pressures to marry before having children have relaxed and today more unmarried men and women are living together and choosing to have children out of wedlock. In fact, national statistics show that, at 41 percent, the national birth rate to unmarried women has more than doubled since 1980.

While fewer young people may choose to marry these days, many will continue to have and raise children. For unmarried parents who subsequently split up, the challenges associated with sorting out child custody, visitation and support matters can be extremely complex and contentious. For Minneapolis area parents dealing with these types of issues, it's wise to contact a family law attorney.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Millennials showing less interest in marriage, study says," Brigid Schulte, May 24, 2015

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