Divorce Seen As Biggest Challenge to Stable American Family Life, New Survey Reveals

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According to a new survey, "The Changing Shape of the American Family," from lawyers.com and Redbook magazine, Americans point to divorce as the biggest challenge to stable family life today. The survey is featured in the November issue of Redbook.

Nontraditional families are evolving faster than laws can keep up. Many people now need to take special care to ensure that their family, particularly if it’s not a traditional nuclear arrangement, is protected financially and legally

Americans point to divorce as the biggest challenge to stable family life today, outpacing other factors (1) such as same-sex or dual-career couples, according to a new survey, “The Changing Shape of the American Family.” Conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Martindale-Hubbell’s lawyers.com from LexisNexis and Redbook magazine, the survey is featured in the November issue of Redbook.

Nearly nine in ten (88%) of U.S. adults say divorce has a negative impact on maintaining a stable American family life. In comparison, 53 percent feel that way about same-sex couples, and 50 percent say dual-career households negatively impact families. Virtually all U.S. adults (99 percent) acknowledge that families have changed over the past generation, and 70 percent say those changes have been for the worse.

“Clearly, many Americans are anxious about the forces that threaten family. They're struggling to understand all this change and what it means for their own personal choices, but they also feel a lot of compassion toward other families that make different choices--or don't have a lot of choices,” said Stacy Morrison, editor-in-chief of Redbook.

Family Law Confuses Majority of Americans

The unease that many U.S. adults feel about non-traditional family arrangements could be compounded by their lack of familiarity with legal concerns that affect families. The survey shows that 85 percent say they are somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about basic family law issues.

“Nontraditional families are evolving faster than laws can keep up. Many people now need to take special care to ensure that their family, particularly if it’s not a traditional nuclear arrangement, is protected financially and legally,” said Alan Kopit, legal editor of lawyers.com, the most comprehensive and trustworthy online resource for finding lawyers.

Among the documents Kopit recommends adults consider are wills, prenuptial agreements, co-habitation agreements and powers of attorney.

“If you are a grandparent caring for grandkids, or if you’re the primary caregiver to minor step-children, you likely have different legal rights and responsibilities than those raising kids in nuclear families,” said Kopit. “It’s important to seek out legal information and counsel to ensure your family is protected.”

Today’s “Typical” American Family

The following data from the survey reveals the make-up of American families:

--One-half of all U.S. adults are currently living with a spouse or opposite-sex partner;

--Thirty-six percent of those married or living with a partner currently live with their biological children;

--Nearly one in five (19%) U.S. adults with at least one child in the household also have one non-immediate family member living there (such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent);

--Parental ties are strong: nearly half (45%) of single, never-married U.S. adults live with at least one biological parent; and

--Some Americans go solo: nearly one-in-five (17%) of all adult Americans live alone.

For more information about the survey, visit lawyers.com.

Survey Sample and Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of lawyers.com from LexisNexis and Redbook magazine, between August 16 and 23, 2006 among 1,092 U.S. adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, race/ethnicity, education, household income, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 1,092, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of + / -4 percentage points. Sampling error for sub samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Lawyers.com

Martindale-Hubbell’s lawyers.com(SM) (http://www.lawyers.com) from LexisNexis is the leading lawyer directory on the Web, providing consumers and small businesses access to a free database of more than 440,000 attorneys and law firms nationwide. Lawyers.com helps site visitors make a fast, informed decision when choosing a lawyer. More than one million searches per month are conducted at lawyers.com by consumers and business people in search of the right lawyer for their needs.

About LexisNexis

LexisNexis® (http://www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading provider of information and services solutions, including its flagship Web-based Lexis® and Nexis® research services, to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting and academic markets. A member of Reed Elsevier Group plc (http://www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide.

About Redbook

Redbook is the must-read magazine for today's young, married woman: an individual as passionate about her own needs as she is about those of her family. Redbook is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation (http://www.hearst.com) and one of the world's largest publishers of monthly magazines, with a total of 20 U.S. titles and 145 international editions. Hearst reaches more adults than any other publisher of monthly magazines (76.3 million according to MRI, spring 2005). The company also publishes 19 magazines in the United Kingdom through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is the 12th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world. The company provides research-driven insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what could conceivably be the world’s largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online.

Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in France and through a global network of independent market research firms. The service bureau, HISB, provides its market research industry clients with mixed-mode data collection, panel development services as well as syndicated and tracking research consultation. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at http://www.harrisinteractive.com. To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at http://go.hpolsurveys.com/PR.        

1. Respondents were asked to select from a list of ten factors in response to the question, “Do you think that each of the following has a positive, negative or no effect on maintaining a stable family life?”

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Laura Byrne
Kaplow PR
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