couple going over paperwork

Is it Risky to Cohabitate Before Marriage?

Cohabitation before marriage was once a rare occurrence. Today, it is common for couples to test their relationship by living together before they marry. According to Psychology Today, approximately 15 percent of couples between 18 to 34 years old move in together before marriage, compared to an astonishing 0.2 percent in the 1970s. This increase has caused many experts to evaluate whether living together before marriage is still a divorce factor. Contrary to common belief, cohabitation before marriage might actually increase the risk of divorce.

A new study that was recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family focused on couples living together before matrimony. The study examined women 44 years old and younger in the first year of their marriage. The data concluded that couples who engaged in premarital cohabitation were less likely to divorce within the first year of marriage; however, the years following increased their risk of separation.

Why are Couples Who Cohabitate Vulnerable to Divorce?

There are many theories on why couples are more likely to divorce if they previously lived together. It is important to note that every couple is unique and that the study examined a wide-range of spouses. Common reasons these couples divorced include:

  • Selection: This theory centers on the selection of the spouse. Regardless of whether the couple lives together before marriage, the choice of their spouse ultimately caused the relationship to end due to various reasons. Common reasons include differing views on marriage, religion, childrearing, and the distribution of finances. For these spouses, the divorce risk does not increase because they were already suitable for separation.
  • Adapting: Premarital cohabitation has an impact on a couple’s relationship and their personal views. Some spouses will change their opinion on marriage over time.
  • Inertia: Once a couple moves in together, marriage is a natural possibility, and breaking up becomes more difficult. The inertia theory means that a couple feels pushed into marriage because of premarital cohabitation, but they likely would not have married otherwise.

What Should I Do if I am Considering a Divorce?

In New Jersey, a couple who is not legally married will face special tribulations when they end their relationship because there are few applicable laws in the state. In rare cases, an unmarried spouse may be able to gain financial support from their former partner, which is called palimony. If a married spouse is considering a divorce, they have more options available to them. Understanding family law can be complicated, but a knowledgeable divorce lawyer can fight on behalf of their client and immediately start the process.

New Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help Clients Through the Divorce Process.

Premarital cohabitation may increase the risk of divorce, but every couple is different. A New Jersey divorce lawyer at Burnham Douglass can help you throughout the entire divorce process. Complete our online form or call us at 856-751-5505 for a free consultation. Located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we proudly assist clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.