Our firm is seeing an increasing number of unmarried couples, living together, with children seeking a “divorce” and resolve such complexities as custody, support , and visitation. Unmarried couples cannot legally divorce and therein lies the problem. Most lack cohabitation agreements.
Marriage rates in the U.S. are at record lows. Divorce rates are also declining in virtually every state, according to the 2010 census. But while people living alone has also been growing, our very human desire for companionship is driving extraordinary growth in cohabitation….living together. The latest findings of a five-year study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of couples today will live together before marriage, and that for two-thirds of them, cohabitation is something that they slid into or “just sort of happened.” According to 2008 federal data, the number of opposite-sex couples who live together, less than a million 30 years, hit 6-7 million in 2007. In 2007, cohabiting couples made up almost 10% of all opposite-sex U.S. couples, married and unmarried.
What has not changed, unsurprisingly, is our evolutionary desire to reproduce, and that continues, unabated, regardless of whether we are married or cohabiting. Today, more than half of children born to women under the age of 30 have unwed parents, according to Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center on children and youth issues.
Whereas married couples seeking divorce have a concrete set of state laws governing the process, and ample precedents of settled case law, unmarried couples have none of this. Many try to navigate the nebulous world of child custody, alimony and asset negotiation on their own. Often, they are sorely disappointed. While more married couples are understandably trying DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce, we are seeing more and more post-DIY clients who simply couldn’t complete the paperwork to the court’s and judge’s satisfaction. Unmarried couples with children shouldn’t even try.
More on this subject to follow. Please et us know what you think.