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Does Cohabitation Lead to Divorce?

At first glance, declining divorce rates can be misleading: it seems like more couples are working through their problems or toughing it out. In fact, the sample is skewed until you factor in the number of young adults who live together rather than get married. More young couples are choosing cohabitation instead of marriage, an arrangement where couples who are not married live together. Discover more about divorce rates and if living together can increase the chances of divorce.

The Truth Behind Cohabitation and Divorce

More than 60 percent of couples in the U.S. opt to cohabit before marriage, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The top reason some couples prefer premarital cohabitation is that it allows them to get to know their partner and see whether they get along well enough to embark on marriage. However, many studies have counter-intuitively found that premarital cohabitation is associated with an increased risk of divorce, a lower quality of marriage, poorer marital communication, and increased domestic violence. Fewer studies refute the negative correlation between premarital cohabitation and divorces.

It is not just one thing when it comes down to the issues that cause divorce in couples who cohabit. On a high level, cohabitation does not result in divorce and never did. The problems that lead to divorce occur when couples decide cohabitation is best for them, and still, they do not have the maturity or experience to work through issues and sustain a long-term relationship. Early entry into marriage cohabitation, especially before age 23, is the crucial risk factor for divorce.

Statistics in New Jersey and in the Nation

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey divorce rates are among the lowest in the nation. Except for divorces in couples over 50, divorce rates in New Jersey have continued to fall over the last five years. Statistics reveal that divorce rates have declined over the last decade in the U.S. The fact remains, however, that almost 40 percent of all marriages end in divorce.

Other notable divorce rates in the U.S. include:

  • The current divorce rate in the U.S. is 2.9 persons per 1,000 people.
  • The divorce rate in the nation is decreasing.
  • Divorces among people aged 50+ years are rising.
  • Fewer couples are deciding to get married.
  • There are more than 750,000 divorces in the U.S. each year.
  • Most Americans who file for divorce do so between January and March.

Studies that Shed Light on Cohabitation and Divorce

The link between premarital cohabitation and divorce in the U.S. is a contested landscape. Psychologists and other experts disagree about why couples who cohabit before marriage have higher divorce rates. Experts also clash about whether the association between premarital cohabitation and divorce has decreased over the past few years. Premarital cohabitation has been associated with higher divorce rates until recent years.

Numerous studies over the last few years have explained how premarital cohabitation was no longer associated with greater odds of divorce. Cohabitation has become more common and has lost the stigma it once had years ago. For decades, premarital cohabitation was linked to poor marriage outcomes.

Studies show that cohabitation was associated with a lower risk of divorce in the first year of marriage, but a higher risk after that. The researchers noted that living together before marriage could give couples an advantage at the start of marriage because there is less of an adjustment to being married and specifically to living together. They found this advantage to be short-lived.

A University of Maryland study found that waiting to get married could lead to fewer divorce risks, but what about those who live together before getting married or those who live together and never get married? Studies have found that cohabitation relationships tend to be less stable and more often end a breakup than marriage.

Research conducted by the Institute for Family Studies shows that those who live together before getting married are at a higher risk of divorce than those who did not cohabit. The premise is that when people share a home, they get caught up in the relationship, making it harder to break up. This increases the chances that they will get married to someone who is not right for them had they not lived together.

New Jersey Laws

One of the significant problems when a couple is not married is the lack of applicable laws in New Jersey to address the various issues which are otherwise relevant to divorcing couples. New Jersey common-law marriage was abolished by statute in 1939. Without common-law marriage in New Jersey, it’s not always clear what rights unmarried couples have when they have been living together for an extended period.

Considering the increasing number of people cohabiting without getting married, the New Jersey courts recognize that in certain situations, an unmarried person may have the right to financial support from a partner after the relationship has ended.

Reasons Why Divorce Rates are Declining

One of the main reasons behind the declining divorce rate is that you learn a lot about people when you finally decide to live with them. If things are not working out in the home, couples never make it down the aisle. The couples who cannot live well together break up as there are fewer strings attached—financial and otherwise. Those who choose cohabitation over marriage can avoid the complications of divorce.

Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., Represent Clients Dealing with Divorce

Our experienced Marlton divorce lawyers with Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A., have extensive experience resolving divorce matters. We take the time and care your case deserves to ensure financial security and peace of mind on the other side of divorce. Call us today at 856-890-9400 or contact us online to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we represent clients across Burlington County, Gloucester County, Camden County, South Jersey, and all of New Jersey.

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