The "traditional" family in the United States involves a mother and a father who are married, living with their children. Many people assume that this is the way the vast majority of kids grow up. The reality, though, is quite different.
According to the Pew Research Center, about 32 percent of American children live in households with a parent who is not married. This could mean they live with a single mother or a single father, for example, or that they live with two parents who, despite being together in a committed relationship, simply never legally tied the knot.
So, that "traditional" family may not be quite as ubiquitous as many assume.
It is worth noting that this has changed over the decades, however. That 32 percent statistic comes from 2017. If you go back to 1968, only 13 percent of kids in the United States lived with an unmarried parent, while 85 percent had two parents who were married. Naturally, that percentage has also fallen, dropping all the way to 65 percent in 2017.
There are many reasons for the change. Certainly, divorce plays a role; it is not nearly as taboo as it once was. However, many couples also find it easier -- and more acceptable, in a cultural sense -- to live together without getting married these days. Cohabitation is more common now than it was in 1965. As these relationships change, things are bound to change for the children, as well.
In light of all of these changes, it is clear that unmarried parents need to know their rights more now than ever.