1.25 million babies (one third of all births) are born each year in the U.S. to unmarried parents. Many people just assume these babies are born to single moms, when in fact 41%of these births are to unmarried cohabitating couples. People no longer get married then have the baby. A significant portion of couples never marry, or marry years after becoming parents.
Unmarried couples face huge challenges in our marriage-centric society. Married couples are automatically legal parents together, while an unmarried father must go through a legal procedure to become the “real” father. Unmarried couples face other challenges, such discrimination in adoption or fertility treatments, unfair income tax treatment, as well as a general lack of understanding by doctors, teachers, and neighbors. Society and the legal system are not set up to recognize and support unmarried parents, and so many find themselves feeling ignored or misunderstood.
Is Hollywood a Factor?
Hollywood has set the example in this instance. Couples such as:
- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
- Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams
- Nicole Ritchie and Joel Madden
- Halle Berry and Gabrielle Aubry
- Naomi Watts and Liev Schrieber
- Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves
- Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
- Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins
- Madonna and her bodyguard (the father of her first child)
- Mia Farrow and Woody Allen
- Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard
- Farah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal
- David Letterman and Regina Lasko
- LeBron James and Savannah Brinson
- John Malkovich and Nicoletta Peyran
- Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault
share or have shared children in a partnership outside marriage. Many other famous couples become parents first and later choose to marry, such as Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, and Madonna and Guy Ritchie (the father of her second child).
Unmarried Births on the Rise Internationally
The U.S. is not the only place where the number of children born outside of marriage is rising. In Europe, 1 in 3 babies are born to unmarried parents. In some countries, this number is even higher. In Sweden, 56%, a sound majority of all babies are born to parents who are not married. In France, 48%. Britain follows with 42%. Fewer and fewer couples are choosing to marry before they have children.
Unmarried with Children: The Complete Guide for Unmarried Families is a guide to the confusing landscape unmarried families must face. Written by Brette Sember, a former attorney and expert in the area of non-traditional families, with a technical mental health review by Philip Hall, Ph.D., this complete guide offers all the information unmarried families need, such as information about:
- Adoption and Infertility Treatments
- Rights of Unmarried Parents
- Choosing a Last Name for Your Child
- Creating Legal Authority for an Unmarried Partner-Parent
- Unmarried Step-Parenting
- Children’s Rights in Unmarried Families
- Financial Organization for Unmarried Families
- Arranging Court-Ordered or Independent Child Support
- Explaining Your Situation to Other People
- Wills, Inheritances, Guardians, Benefits and More
- How to Successfully Parent in Your Situation
- How to Deal with a Break Up
- Common Law Marriages and Domestic Partnerships