How Divorce is Making American Families Bigger

How Divorce is Making American Families Bigger

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people per household has decreased over the last several decades. In 1960, there was an average of 3.33 people per household, but this number dropped to 2.53 by 2016. Even though the average number of people per household may be on the decline, a new study shows that divorce is making American families bigger.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston analyzed survey data and discovered that about one-third of U.S. households led by adults under the age of 55 have at least one stepparent. In addition, this data also revealed that one-third of couples over the age of 55 with adult children have at least one stepchild. The researchers concluded that the addition of stepchildren and stepparents through divorce and remarriage are making the average American family about 66% larger than ever before.

This drastic increase in the size of American families could be due to the rise in gray divorce. The divorce rate among couples that are over the age of 50 has doubled since 1990s. Since many adults over the age of 50 have adult children, gray divorcees that remarry often end up with adult stepchildren. This expands the size of their family to include their adult stepchildren, and the size of the adult stepchildren’s family to include their new stepparent.

However, the researchers also found that many people in these expanded families are unsure of their role in the family. For example, stepparents may not know whether it is their responsibility to contribute to a stepchild’s college tuition. A stepchild may question whether or not he is responsible for caring for an elderly stepparent.

This uncertainly may be explained by the fact that stepchildren and stepparents often don’t spend as much time together as they should. Researchers found that couples spend less time with their adult stepchildren than they do with their biological children. Spending more time together may help these family members establish a better relationship and gain a better understanding of the role they play within the family.

Based on these findings, it is clear that divorce is expanding the size of the American family. But, it is also apparent that it is up to the stepparents and stepchildren to make an effort to connect with one another and make the most out of their nontraditional family.

If you are filing for divorce, seek legal representation from the experienced divorce attorneys at Adams Family Law. We will offer the support and legal guidance that you need to make it through this difficult process. To schedule a consultation, call 513-929-9333 or email

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