Married Couples Now a Minority in Tennessee

As reported recently in The Tennessean, for the first time in our history, most households in Tennessee are comprised of single people or unmarried couples. Here are some excerpts from the article:

For the first time, married couples find themselves in the minority in Tennessee.

Newly released census data show that 48 percent of households in the state are headed by a husband-and-wife couple. Ten years ago, married couples made up 52 percent of Tennessee households.

In Nashville, married couples are even more rare. If you peeked in the window of 100 houses in Nashville, you’d find a traditional husband-and-wife couple in only every third home. . . .

There are counties in Tennessee where marriages are in the majority. Williamson County, for example, has married couples at the head of more than two-thirds of its households.

But in Tennessee and almost every county, the number of married couples dropped between the 2000 census and 2010. Wilson County slipped from 64 percent to 60 percent of households headed by married couples; Rutherford dropped from 56 percent to 51 percent; and Sumner dropped from 61 percent to 57 percent. . . .

The U.S. marriage rate dropped 14 percent between 1998 and 2008. Even Tennessee, which has some of the nation’s higher marriage numbers, saw a 30 percent decline, from 82,947 marriages licenses requested in 1998 to 58,464 in 2008.

Why it’s happening and what it means depends on who you ask.

“People are living together, not getting married. They’re living alone. They’re living with roommates. … The trend has definitely gone away from (marriage),” said Randy Gustafson, a researcher who studies census data at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business & Economic Research in Knoxville. “We see it as something that’s been going on for some time.”

It’s much easier for a single parent to run a household alone today than it was decades ago, Gustafson noted, which means marriage is less of a necessity and more of a matter of personal choice these days. . . .

Nationwide, Americans are waiting longer to get married, and more are having children out of wedlock, or raising children solo after a divorce. . . .

The shift in demographics means a shift in the services communities are offering. More single parents means a need for more support services, everything from after-school enrichment programs to more child-care providers.

Married Couples Now a Minority in Tennessee (The Tennessean, May 10, 2011).

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.

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K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

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