Over the past five decades there has been a steady increase in the number of children born to unwed parents. In fact, nowadays, more than half of the children who are born to women under the age of 30 are also born to parents who are not married. And while there are several theories on this cultural shift, the fact remains that without proper precautions, unmarried men can end up losing their rights as parents more easily than those who are married.
According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, almost two-thirds of the children in the U.S. are born to woman under the age of 30. More than half of these births are to unmarried parents. Some believe this is a trend that will continue to increase over the years among most demographics.
When looking at why there has been an increase in children born outside of wedlock, some point to the fact that there is not as much of a social stigma tied to having children outside of marriage, and many wives no longer need the financial security that once came with having a husband.
Additionally, due to the high divorce rate, many people grew up experiencing their own parents' divorce, and now have a jaded view of marriage.
However, regardless of the reasoning for this increase, when a child is born outside of marriage it is very important for the father to establish his rights as a parent by filing a paternity action. Without filing for this action, if there is a falling out with the mother, the father could end up losing his rights to custody and decision making in his child's life.
Source: The New York Times, "Culture shift: Single moms a new normal," Jason DeParle, Feb. 18, 2012