Societal norms often serve to force people to conform to and follow a certain way of doing things that are perceived by the majority as being correct or right. When a person’s actions fall outside the accepted way of doing things, many within society are quick to judge or discount those who buck the trend as being wrong or somehow inferior.
Thirty or more years ago, this type of prejudice was all too familiar to women who had a child out of wedlock. Women were expected to first get married and then have a baby and those who didn’t conform to this social norm were often automatically presumed to be irresponsible, uneducated and poor.
Over time, societal norms tend to shift and change as the percentage of people who follow them dwindles. Such appears to be the case with having a child out of wedlock. In fact, while in 1985 only 17 percent of children in the U.S. were born to single mothers, today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 40 percent of all U.S. children are born to single mothers.
While in some cases, a child’s parents may eventually marry, many split up prior to or shortly after a child’s birth. Among unmarried cohabitating parents, roughly 30 percent split within five years of a child’s birth. Additionally, with the U.S. divorce rate consistently hovering between 40 and 50 percent, there’s obviously no guarantee that married parents will stay together either.
For parents who split up or divorce, matters related to child custody, visitation and support are often highly emotional and can become complicated and contentious. It’s a good idea, therefore, to turn to a family law attorney who can advocate on one’s behalf and assist with ensuring that a child’s best interests are being respected and protected.
Source: USA Today, “Baby before marriage doesn’t increase divorce risk, study says,” Mary Bowerman, Sept. 16, 2015
CDC.gov, “Unmarried Childbearing,” Sept. 21, 2015