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Numbers of married parents falling across the United States

Experts and U.S. Census Bureau data indicate significant changes in both marriage and parenthood, primarily showing a decrease in married couples with children. Meanwhile, the number of single-parent households continues to rise.

One U.S. city showed a 26 percent increase in the number of households headed by single men in a recent 10-year time span. Households led by single women are also on the rise. Though this happened outside of Georgia, it is likely that these trends are happening everywhere, including in Georgia.

While some might immediately point to teenage pregnancies or a high divorce rate being at the root of the trend, statistics indicate otherwise. Some women revealed they opted to become unwed mothers because they felt they weren't ready for the commitment of marriage. Other interviews conducted with hundreds of couples in their 20s revealed that although they did believe marriage was important, they had seen so few successful marriages they weren't eager to pursue the institution of marriage themselves.

Statistics support these interviews, as the number of single mothers in their 20s appears to be on the rise. Although many are unmarried, they are in relationships with the fathers of their children, many of whom live in the same home.

Poverty seems to affect women's decision to marry, as well. Women at poverty level said they view marriage as a "luxury" and having children as more of a necessity.

Ultimately, single parents in Georgia will need legal agreements to resolve child custody issues. Even if a child's parents have never been married, they both should have equal access to him or her and have the same legal rights. Working with a child custody attorney is one of the best ways to make sure that both parents' parental rights are secure.

Source: News Leader, "Experts see attitudes shift toward marriage, children," Kathryn Wall, Nob. 24, 2012

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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