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Having a baby before marriage does not increase divorce risk

In the not-so-distant past, couples in New Jersey and around the country that had a baby before they were married had a higher chance of getting a divorce later on. However, a new study by the Council on Contemporary Families has found that getting married after having children is no longer the strong predictor of divorce that it once was.

Researchers who conducted the marriage study analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Survey of Family Growth. Data that was gathered between 1985 and 1995 was compared to data that was gathered between 1997 and 2010. When looking at the earlier group, researchers discovered that couples that had a baby before getting married had a 60 percent greater chance of divorcing than couples that waited until they were married to have children. Marriage after having children did not have any effect on divorce rates in the later group.

Researchers noted other significant changes in survey answers between the two different groups. While 17 percent of couples in the first group had a baby before they got married, more than twice as many couples in the second group did so. Although marriage after a baby no longer increases the chances of divorce, researchers found that couples that have a baby and live together without getting married still have a high likelihood of separating.

When two parents go through a divorce, they must negotiate a parenting plan outside of court or allow a judge to determine a custody arrangement. If communication between the parents is strained, child custody issues can become very complicated. A family law attorney may be able to assist a parent who is going through a child custody dispute to present sound arguments for the preferred arrangement.

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