More and more, couples are having kids without tying the knot. And many come to regret that decision when the relationship falls apart, says Rose Surnow at the New York Observer. Divorce brings a sense of finality that a simple break-up doesn't, but it also provides a legal, even ritualistic process to deal with money, property, and children. "Unmarried couples are forced to navigate the nebulous world of child custody, alimony, and asset negotiation on their own." An excerpt:

Marriage rates in the United States are at record lows. And when more than half of children born to women under the age of 30 have unwed parents, according to Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center on children and youth issues, more and more couples are finding themselves in such relationship limbo.... And with kids in the picture, breaking up has become that much messier....

No one wants to relive the bitter divorce that his or her parents endured. But here's the fallacy: Keeping your union unofficial in the eyes of the state doesn't make your relationship immune. In fact, according to research from the University of Michigan, unmarried couples with children are far more likely to split than their married counterparts.

Read the entire article at the New York Observer.