When Is Choosing Single Parenthood a Better Option Than Marriage?

As a divorce lawyer, my days are spent untangling the married lives of people who no longer want to be married, and who sometimes should never have gotten married in the first place. In a recent New York Times article Single at 38? Have That Baby, the author shares her decision to deliberately get pregnant and have a child at 39, without being married or even in a relationship.

A marriage of convenience is in fact often highly inconvenient. The decision to have a child is a very personal one. Times have changed, and the decision for a single woman to have a child does not mandate marriage. The myth that a child is both financially and emotionally better off with two parents is often just that: a myth.

Single parenthood isn’t always a choice, but for women who are unmarried and hearing their biological clock ticking away during the last years of their 30s, choosing to become a single parent can be a preferable option to getting married solely in order to get pregnant and have a child.

There is more than one way to have a child:

  • become pregnant in a sexual relationship
  • conceive a baby alone through fertility treatment
  • adopt a child

Conceiving a child via fertility treatment or adoption can be both financially and emotionally expensive and time-consuming. But so is getting a divorce from someone you’ve never loved and no longer want to be married to.

Even in a collaborative divorce or mediation where both people are committed to ending their marriage in a non-adversarial way and coming to an agreement around the financial and child-related issues, divorce can be very expensive. And while collaborative divorce and mediation are becoming more common, there are many divorces that are contested and require long court battles involving financial and custody disputes. The price tag for these divorces is incredibly high both financially and emotionally.

  • A child raised in a loving home with two loving parents who have the financial resources to raise them without stress may be the ideal, but for many it is simply not a reality. Current statistics indicate 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce, and that number has not changed very much in the last 20 years.
  • Having a child is a choice, and choosing to raise that child in a happy, loving home is also a choice. Getting married solely to have children without being in love with your partner – even if your potential partner agrees to the marriage under those conditions – is too often doomed to become an expensive and emotional divorce that is not in the best interest of the child or the parents. And was totally avoidable.

Parenting is never easy. Single parenthood is far from easy. But willingly entering into what you strongly suspect will be an unhappy marriage is not the solution. Many of my clients may learn these lessons too late, but since I also help clients with prenuptial agreements, I want to put this information out there for anyone considering marriage.

If you are already in a marriage that you want to end in the most amicable way possible or want a prenuptial agreement or parenting agreement to avoid a messy divorce or custody battle later, contact us:

Vacca Law & Mediation
One Grand Central Place
60 East 42nd Street, Suite 1420
New York, NY 10165
avacca@vaccalaw.com