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Families in America: increasingly marked by diversity

13652753_S.jpgThe United States is a country marked by many singular characteristics that prominently distinguish it from many other nations across the globe.

One central feature -- underlying current, if you will -- that fundamentally contributes to national identity is the country's ready embrace of change. Things are always in flux in America, whether that pertains to politics, economics, religious matters, race relations, drug policies, social media and a host of other matters.

Including family law. The sheer diversity that so deeply defines America especially influences critically important family law matters and outcomes.

Consider the very term "family," for instance, and what it currently means across the country. The nuclear family (mom, dad and the kids, all under one roof) persists, of course, with that composition still defining the "norm" for millions of people.

But it is far from commanding preeminent status as the go-to family unit. Many couples cohabit outside marriage, with their mom and dad roles being irrelevant to the abilities they bring to their families as parents. Single mothers run many households. Increasingly, the same can be said concerning single fathers. Some homes are run by one or more grandparents. In others, older siblings run the show.

And divorce across the country has of course been the catalyst for many evolving family units, with blended compositions of virtually every scope having emerged to expand the definition of family in the United States.

Central to the family dynamic in a growing number of instances is the increase of so-called "nontraditional" family units, whether those be marked by same-sex partners (married or unmarried), one gay person who is or was formerly married to a "straight" partner, or a person who identifies as transgender.

The bottom line with families in America is that they are exceptionally diverse, with that fact being increasingly recognized and publicly noted.

One case in point is a network of Illinois-based gay fathers -- some divorced, some separated, some still actively involved in a relationship -- that was recently established and is now steadily growing in Chicago. The Gay Fathers of Greater Chicago is a support group that helps guide gay men through issues surrounding divorce, child-related matters and other family law concerns.

We'll take a look at the group in an upcoming blog post.

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