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Number of children born to unmarried couples continues to grow

The number of children being born to unmarried couples, single mothers and same sex couples continues to grow at a rapid rate according to a new National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. The percentage of children born to unmarried parents who live together jumped 83 percent since 2002. The percentage of births to cohabitating women jumped from 9 percent in 1985 to 27 percent. The study was conducted with face-to-face interviews with 23,000 men and women between the ages of 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2010.

A sociologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio believes the remarkable increase may be due to the recession and called marriage an "achievement" that many people today don't think they are economically ready for. Living together and having children out of wedlock seems to be more widely accepted with less of a stigma attached to it. The study also showed that more educated, middle-class women are cohabitating with the father of their children, but delaying marriage. In 2002, the percentage of first births for unmarried women was 38 percent. In 2010, the percentage of children born to unmarried couples was 46 percent.

In Ohio, unless and until paternity is proven, unmarried fathers have absolutely no legal rights or recourse to their child. When born to an unmarried woman, the mother is presumed to have all legal and physical custody, care and control of the child. Even if the father's name is on the birth certificate, but you are not married, the father must formally establish paternity and assert his rights before a judge.

Source: USA Today, "More children born to unmarried parents," Sharon Jayson, April 12, 2012

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