I have been perusing National Affairs, and am, for the most part, impressed. (The social science is quite sharp, as are the critiques of modern social science, but the political analysis is more predictable). Anyway, W. Bradford Wilcox's "The Evolution of Divorce is well done. He shows how marriage has changed since the introduction of "No fault divorce" in the lat 1960s and early 1970s. Although the divorce rate has declined, it is still much higher than it used to be. In addition, for more and more people marriage is now mostly about finding a "soul-mate" rather than about finding some with whom to make a life. Finally, and most interesting to me just now, is that more an more people are simply not getting married, even though they are having children.
There is a large class divide on this issue: "According to a 2007 Child Trends study, only 7% of mothers with a college degree had a child outside of marriage, compared to more than 50% of mothers who had not gone to college." Nowadays, a USA Today story notes, nearly 40% of babies born in the US are born outside of wedlock.
Here's my question. Might something like common law marriage be reintroduced through the back-door by civil suits that develop a customary law regarding the obligations of fathers and mothers for their children, regardless of their official marital status, and/ or governments with an interest in forcing fathers to pay to support the children they helped to create (and perhaps their mothers too)?
You can drive nature out with a pitchfork, but she always returns.