Getting married after having kids doesn’t increase divorce rates

Some people may believe that having a baby out of wedlock could increase the risk of divorcing if the parents marry later, but is this really the case? A new report suggests that isn’t the case at all, and cohabitating couples who have a child before getting married may not have a higher risk of divorce than couples who marry before having children.

According to the National Survey of Family Growth, couples who had a baby first and married later are at no higher of a risk for a divorce following marriage than those who waited until after marriage in the 1990s through 2010. However, between 1985 and 1995, the previously studied years, those who had children before getting married were 60 percent more likely to get divorced than those who waited before having a child.

What has changed since those years? One thing that has made a difference is the lowering of the expectation that couples who have a child should get married immediately or rush into a marriage for the child’s sake. That means couples can live together and get married if and when they’re ready to do so, not just for the child who is being born. Some couples may also be planning marriage and planning for children, but they may not care which part of that process happens first.

Interestingly, the only group of cohabitating parents at a higher risk of separating were those who never got married at all. In the study, it was found that 30 percent of the couples who lived together but didn’t marry within five years broke up.

Source: The Huffington Post, “A Baby Before Marriage Doesn’t Increase Divorce Risk, Study Finds,” Brittany Wong, Sep. 17, 2015