October 16, 2015

Cohabitation or Baby before Marriage Does Not Increase Risk of Divorce

Divorce Trends

Conventional wisdom has long-held that straying outside of the traditionally accepted social “schedule” for marriage and families will lead to an increased likelihood of a broken home or divorce.

It has long-been argued, for example, that living together before marriage means that the couple is more likely to get divorced. This has also been said of having children. Several of these studies have focused on surrounding factors rather than the outcome of co-habitation, in the example given — such as the fact that couples are more likely to move into together younger, and then effectively function as a married couple though neither was ready for marriage, meaning they wind up getting married and later divorced. Another of these factors that conventional thought dictates will result in divorce is having a child out of wedlock. Recent research is proving this standing belief incorrect.

But it is not that the research was just wrong when it was published. This year’s study collected data from married and cohabitating women who had their first child between 1985 and 1995. This section of women (and their current relationship status) was compared with women who had their first child between 1997 and 2010. In the first group of women, those who had had their child before marriage were more likely to now be divorced. This was not the case with the second group of women. Findings could have as much to do with the increased rates of couples having a baby outside of marriage — the more people who are doing so, the more likely that many will stay together.

There are some statistics findings, however, that have remained true: One is that a long-term cohabitating couple has a higher risk for divorce if they never marry. Researchers found that 30 percent of cohabitating couples that did not marry end up splitting up, as opposed to cohabitating couples who eventually married.

If you or someone you know has questions about divorce, co-parenting, cohabitating or property division, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today.