Author Offers Tips for Unmarried and Single Americans Week (Sept 21-27)

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Unmarried and Single Americans Week, an annual celebration, focuses attention on the millions of Americans who are not married. 1.25 million babies (one third of all births) are born each year in the U.S. to unmarried parents.

Unmarried and Single Americans Week, an annual celebration, focuses attention on the millions of Americans who are not married. 1.25 million babies (one third of all births) are born each year in the U.S. to unmarried parents. Brette Sember, author of Unmarried with Children: The Complete Guide for Unmarried Families (Adams Media, August 2008, ISBN: 978-1-59869-587-8) , says, "Many people just assume these babies are born to young single moms, when in fact 41% of these births are to unmarried cohabitating couples. Births to single women over age 35 recently doubled and rates of non-marital births among single white mothers rose 92%. People no longer get married, then have the baby. A significant portion of couples never marry, or marry years after becoming parents. We are experiencing a dramatic shift in how families are formed."

The U.S. Census recently released new data tied to this weeklong celebration. In 2006:

  •     12.9 million single parents were living with their children
  •     39% of opposite-sex unmarried partner homes included children
  •     6 million households were unmarried partner households (5.2 million opposite sex and 780,000 same sex)

Sember says, "Unmarried couples face huge challenges in our marriage-centric society. Married couples are automatically legal parents together, while an unmarried father must go through a legal procedure to become the "real" father. Unmarried couples face other hurdles, such as discrimination in adoption or fertility treatments, unfair income tax treatment, as well as a general lack of understanding by doctors, teachers, and neighbors. Society and the legal system are not set up to recognize and support unmarried parents, and so many find themselves feeling ignored or misunderstood."

Why are unmarried families growing? Sember points to the dramatic increase in Hollywood parents who never marry. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are the most famous, but the list grows longer every single day. "Divorce has also set the bar here. It is not unusual anymore for a child to grow up with divorced parents. Unmarried parents are the next logical progression step in what is acceptable in our society."

Sember offers these tips for unmarried families:

  •     Establish legal paternity from the start. If you are both biological parents, you need to file an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This will make everyone's rights clear and prevent problems down the road with proving parentage to schools or if you split up and child support is needed.
  •     Create an arrangement that works for you. Whether you share a household, live separately, or have never been romantic partners, you have the complete freedom to work together to create financial and practical arrangements that fit your family's needs. You can share expenses and time in any way that works for you.
  •     Plan for the future. Even though you understand your family's dynamic, others may not. Because of this it is essential that you have wills, powers of attorney, school authorizations, child medical permissions, and health care directives at the ready.
  •     Expect respect. Others may not agree with your family arrangement, however this is the loving family that is raising your child. Insist you be treated with the respect other families receive.

Unmarried with Children: The Complete Guide for Unmarried Families (Adams Media, August 2008, ISBN: 978-1-59869-587-8) is a guide to the confusing landscape unmarried families must face. Written by Brette Sember, a former attorney and expert in the area of non-traditional families, with a technical mental health review by Philip Hall, Ph.D., this complete guide offers all the information unmarried families need, such as information about:

  •     Adoption and Infertility Treatments for Unmarried Couples
  •     Rights of Unmarried Parents (Raising Children Together or Apart)
  •     Choosing a Last Name for Your Child
  •     Creating Legal Authority for an Unmarried Partner-Parent
  •     Unmarried Step-Parenting
  •     Children's Rights in Unmarried Families
  •     Financial Organization for Unmarried Families
  •     Paternity
  •     Arranging Court-Ordered or Independent Child Support
  •     Explaining Your Situation to Other People
  •     Wills, Inheritances, Guardians, Benefits and More
  •     How to Successfully Parent in Your Situation
  •     How to Deal with a Break Up
  •     Common Law Marriages and Domestic Partnerships

Unmarried with Children also addresses the concerns of other unmarried parents, such as gay couples, single mothers, and parents who are no longer a couple, but are co-parenting to raise their child. Review copies are available. The author is available for interviews about this topic. For more information, visit http://www.UnmarriedwithChildren.net.

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BRETTE SEMBER

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