For decades, it has seemed as though divorce rates have been rising ever higher in Pittsburgh and indeed across the country. The truth is that while divorce rates are high, they have not been increasing year after year. However, the fact that divorce rates are not as high as commonly believed does not mean that families are becoming more stable. There are still a lot of families that break up, but in increasing numbers, the parents are not getting divorced because they never were married in the first place.
According to a recent report from the National Marriage Project, children are now more likely to have parents that were never married than they are to have parents who are divorced. By age twelve, 42 percent of American children have lived with unmarried parents. Only 24 percent of children age twelve and under have divorced parents.
The National Marriage Project is trying to advocate for marriage, so they want their conclusions to point to the undesirability of parents not marrying. For instance, even though they point out that twice as many children have unmarried parents as divorced parents, they do not make a distinction in that statistic between unmarried parents who live together and those that have broken up. It is assumed that having unmarried parents is a negative, even if the family is otherwise intact.
Pittsburgh divorce lawyers noticed that in the National Marriage Project report, the emphasis was on the growing number of families with unmarried parents. However, on the other side of the argument, some experts have said that the phenomenon is probably due to parents in unstable relationships skipping marriage because they recognize earlier on that the relationship is unlikely to last. While intact families may be more desirable than non-intact ones, a recognition of a relationship's instability may not be worse than getting married and then finding that the relationship is not tenable.
Source: NYT "More Unwed Parents Live Together, Report Finds" Aug. 16, 2011