Your spouse comes to you and says they’re ready to start a family. You tell them you need some time to think about it. And, while you do think about your desire to have children, you also spend that time thinking about the impact such a development could have on your marriage. Will it make it more likely that you’ll get divorced?

Does having kids increase the chances for divorce?

If you’re looking for a blanket statement correlating divorce with having children, you’re not likely to find one. While children can certainly contribute to increased stress and financial challenges, which can in turn lead to divorce, it doesn’t appear that simply having kids means that your marriage is over.

What matters is how you feel about children and your plans for your family, and whether or not that matches up with how your spouse feels. For example, one study determined that women who have a strong desire for children but are married to a spouse that doesn’t have divorce odds that are twice as high as other couples.

The topic of having kids can create friction

Disagreements about the number of children may also play a role in marital discord. Say one person really wants three or four kids and has always dreamed of a large family, but their spouse is adamant that they just want one. Their divorce odds are higher because their desires don’t line up, so they may eventually break off their relationship to chase their personal desires in new relationships. In these sorts of cases, discussions about having children may lead to divorce, but the real cause of the separation results from both spouses having incompatible goals for the future.

If you and your spouse do decide to get a divorce, especially if you have children, make sure you know what legal options you have. An experienced advocate can help you address issues related to custody, the division of your marital property and support.