According to a study by the Council on Contemporary Families, having a baby prior to marriage does not increase the odds of a couple getting a divorce. Researchers gathered data on women in Texas and around the country who had their first child between 1997 and 2010 and found that divorce rates were similar regardless of whether they got married first or had the child first. It is thought that the diminished stigma of having a child out of wedlock has led to this result.
Those who are familiar with the issue say that there is less pressure to get married just because the couple had a child. Instead, they are more likely to advance the relationship at their own pace and get married when they are ready. In addition, more women were having children out of wedlock between 1997 and 2010. In that time period, 35 percent of women gave birth out of wedlock compared to 17 percent from 1985 to 1995. Those women from the earlier time period who later got married saw their chances of divorce increase significantly compared to those who waited to have their first child until after they wed.
Researchers did say that the study did control for factors such as income and levels of education. They also said that couples that cohabited but were not married within five years were more likely to separate. However, the study pointed out that this may have more to do with their overall lower incomes and education levels.
A parent who is facing the end of a marriage may want to speak with a family law attorney to determine whether divorce mediation is a viable alternative to litigation. Parents who are able to communicate with each other often find that this method of dispute resolution is a good way to discuss and resolve issues relating to custody and visitation.