It used to be that an unexpected pregnancy almost always meant that the couple involved would get married. As a social and cultural issue, people really looked down on the idea of getting pregnant outside of marriage and tying the knot as soon as possible was seen as the only way to “fix” this “problem.”

These days, though, people often don’t look at this as a problem or as something that they need to fix. The social stigma has changed. A lot of couples have kids before planning a marriage and don’t even rush into marriage when they find out that the children are on the way. Studies have discovered that this doesn’t increase the odds of divorce later in life, and many modern couples seem happy to have children without even a solid plan to get married.

Overall, they view these two steps in life as very different steps. Starting a family is one. Getting married is another. They can do either one, both or neither — it’s all up to them. They don’t feel compelled to do them in any order and will simply accept how things progress. This is far different than the older view that these steps had a specific order: Start dating, get engaged, get married, have kids, etc.

While many couples find a type of freedom in these modern ideas, it has led to a rise in unmarried parents. They may end up with some complicated legal questions regarding their children and their relationship. It’s important for them to know where they stand on these issues and what rights they have.