In decades past, for many people who heard the term unwed mother, the image of a young, poor and uneducated woman readily sprang to mind. Today, research indicates that not only are more women intentionally choosing to become unwed mothers, but those that do so tend to be older, wealthier and more educated.
In the U.S., today’s single moms are also more plentiful with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that, in 2013, a reported 40 percent of all U.S. births were to unwed moms. However, unlike many unwed moms of previous decades, the CDC also reports that an estimated 59 percent of unwed moms aren’t necessarily raising a child alone.
For the first time in recorded U.S. history, the majority of unwed mothers are co-habitating with a partner. We’ve previously reported how the U.S. marriage rate is declining and the apparent increase in co-habitating couples who, while choosing to forgo marriage, are forging ahead with parenthood is further proof of shifting societal norms around both parenthood and marriage.
Some social scientists have raised concerns about the stability of co-habitating parents vs. married parents. There’s no doubt that legally, it’s much easier for a co-habitating couple to split up. However, when there are children involved, things quickly become more complicated as matters related to child custody, visitation and support must be sorted out.
These types of issues can become especially complex in cases where a father failed to take steps to establish paternity or where a split is highly contentious. For these reasons, co-habitating parents who are going through a break-up and attempting to sort out child custody matters are advised to contact a family law attorney.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Sees Rise in Unmarried Parents,” Neil Shah, March 10, 2015
KRIV-TV Fox 26, “35 years old, unwed and choosing to have a baby,” Mary Jo Rapini, June 8, 2015