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Does Co-Habitation Affect Divorce?

By the time two people get married, they may have spent years together already. They might share a pet or even a child, and they are often important parts of each other’s families. They may already live together, as well.

In fact, cohabitation is increasingly popular among young couples. And according to recent research, this trend could have an impact on divorce rates and the divorce process.

Living together and the risk of divorce

Because the popularity of cohabitation is a relatively recent trend, there remain conflicting and limited studies on how living together might affect a couple’s chances of divorce. However, one recent study suggests that it could lead to fewer divorces in the short-term, but more divorces in the long-term.

Researchers hypothesize that marriage after premarital cohabitation presents less of an initial shock to couples, making it less likely that they will divorce right away. In the long-term, though, divorce could be more likely because couples who already lived together before marriage may be dealing with less cultural, religious, or familial pressure regarding divorce, making it a more viable option for them.

How it can affect the divorce process

If a couple who lived together before marriage gets divorced, it could be possible for some complications to arise during the legal process. For instance, if couples bought a house together, bought pets, or made promises to each other before marriage, the line between separate and shared property can be very fuzzy.

Covering your legal bases

Taking all this into account, it might be valuable to consider discussing options like premarital agreements with an attorney if you live with someone and plan to get married. Doing so can clearly define property and expectations.

We also want to remind readers that studies like this one cannot guarantee that a marriage will or will not end in divorce. However, they can reveal some trends that make it a little easier for people to understand why they might benefit from some legal planning and resources.