Divorce, Family, and Statistics

Over the last thirty years, some of the most dramatic changes in American life have occurred within the family structure. Marriage rates have decreased and the rate of cohabitation has increased. Unmarried cohabitating couples are increasingly having children, at a rate that has doubled in the decade between 1990 and 1999 alone. http://www.bgsu.edu/downloads/cas/file35381.pdf

In a 2011 report from the Census Bureau, it was found that among those getting married for the first time, they are increasingly waiting until later in life to do it. In 1950, the median age for first marriage was 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2009, the median age for marriage was 28 for men and 26 for women. http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-125.pdf

This same studied also found that divorce rates have plateaued after an all-time high in 1980. In 2009, approximately 35 percent of women between the ages of 40 to 49 had divorced – a 5 percent decrease from 1996. Interestingly, while the divorce rate has leveled off for most, that trend does not exist for those over the age of 50. Instead, the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University found that the divorce rate among older couples has more than doubled over the past three decades.

At a time when the baby boomer generation is increasingly saying “I don’t,” a new generation of same-sex couples have sought the right to say “I do.” In states such as Ohio, the very definition of marriage has been legislated to include only heterosexual couples, as national attention has spotlighted same-sex couplehood, and reproductive rights. The very idea of “family life” has thrust into hotbed of political discourse, taking on a civil rights dimension that would have been unheard of in the 1950’s era of ‘nuclear families.’

And yet, the world continues to turn. Marriages happen, and marriages fail. People continue to get up and go to work in the morning, and their children go to school. So what is the moral of this story? Life happens. And as much as things may change, some things always remain the same. People fall in love. Children are born. Families, whatever their composition, are formed. For everything else… well, the world is full of attorneys.


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