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Are shotgun marriages on the rise?

Do you know what the phrase "shotgun wedding" actually means? Apparently, it refers to a father with a shotgun forcing the boyfriend of his pregnant daughter to get married following a pregnancy. These days, the term is just a figurative expression for any couple who suddenly decides to get married after a pregnancy.

One might assume that this sort of wedding is less common in the modern era, where divorces and single parents are exceedingly normal. In this respect, soon-to-be parents should be less likely to take a risk on marriage if it is clear that they are incompatible or if they want to try living together first to test their compatibility before tying the knot, right? Research shows that the opposite is true in North Carolina among specific demographics.

As it turns out, shotgun marriages are indeed going out of style overall, but they are increasing in frequency for certain groups. Among Caucasian populations in North Carolina, the number of births involving mid-pregnancy marriages decreased from 8.8 percent down to 6.3 percent, and among African Americans, it declined from 2.7 percent down to 2.6 percent -- showing an overall decline.

However, for white mothers under the age of 25, mid-pregnancy marriages increased by 17 percent, and for black mothers without less than a college degree, the figure rose by 61 percent. Interestingly, those who choose to have a mid-pregnancy marriage will not necessarily have a higher divorce rate. For Caucasian parents, a shotgun marriage resulted in a higher chance of divorce, but for African American parents, there was no significant increase.

It seems that no matter how much love a couple has at the beginning of their marriage -- or no matter what the circumstances surrounding their union -- there is always the chance of divorce. As such, before entering into a marital contract, couples may want to first discuss the pluses and minuses of marriage with a North Carolina family law attorney. They may even want to consider drawing up a simple prenuptial agreement that will make their divorces easier to navigate should it ever be necessary to bring their marriages to a close.

Source: The Chronicle, "Think shotgun marriages are dead? A new study from Duke suggests otherwise," Jackie Dillon, Nov. 03, 2016

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