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Is the ‘nuclear family’ a bygone definition?

When someone hears the term “nuclear family,” they might think of a married mom and dad with two kids. The family is likely all of the same race and the kids are probably a boy and a girl with perfect smiles, perfect behaviors, a skill for tennis and a love of school.

It might be the stereotypical definition of family, but it only takes one look out our front door to understand that this definition doesn’t fit a large number of families across the nation. The face of the American family has certainly changed, and it is forcing courts to look at family law issues in a different way.

A typical family in this era may have multiple children from multiple marriages. It may include a mom from one country and a dad from another. It may include a mom and a mom or a dad and a dad. Kids may have neither parent’s DNA. Sometimes a family includes mom, the kids and grandma. In other cases it is mom and dad in two different houses and a shared custody schedule.

If it is numbers one needs, statistics from different sources, including the U.S. Census help show these differences as well. For example, today, 41 percent of children are born to unmarried women — and the majority of the moms are in their 20s and 30s

This changing dynamic has altered the way courts look at custody arrangements, determine support payments and even decide visitation rights that extended family may have in some situations.

Seeking the advice and assistance of a St. Louis attorney with extensive experience is an pragmatic decision to ensure that the agreements made in a child custody matter match the needs of any unique family situation.

Source: The New York Times, “The Changing American Family,” Natalie Angier, Nov. 25, 2013

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