As it turns out, cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce after all – but rather, the age at which you cohabitate determines your risk for divorce. For years, social scientists have linked cohabitation with divorce, cautioning couples to resist moving in together by correlating “shacking up” with “splitting up.” However, recent studies reveal that the biggest predictor of divorce is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.
Previous studies compared the divorce rates of couples who cohabitated with those who didn’t by using the age of marriage as the focal variable. Arielle Kuperberg, a sociologist behind the new studies, used a different variable: Kuperberg compared the relationships using the date of first moving in together. That date, she reasoned, is when a couple really takes on marriage roles, regardless of whether they have a legal certificate. Using this novel method, Kuperberg found no link between whether people had cohabited before marriage and their rate of divorce. She also found that the turning point in age for picking a life partner appears to be around 23, an age that likely coincides with college graduation. “That’s when people are able to pick a partner who is more compatible,” she explains. “Maybe they are a little more mature. They’re a little set up in the world.”
Sociologists also discovered that while moving in may be irrelevant to divorce rates, rushing into cohabitation may have its disadvantages. Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell University, found that most cohabitors with college degrees move in together only after a long stretch of dating. On the other hand, more than half of the cohabiters without college degrees move in together after less than six months of dating. Sassler explained this phenomenon through financial motivators: financial need seems to push the less well-off into romantic roommate situations before they are ready, increasing the chances that the relationship will dissolve. Therefore, Sassler argues that it is the type of premarital cohabitation that predicts divorce, and not necessarily cohabitation in itself.
If you are interested in cohabitating with your partner and are concerned with your rights in the event the relationship dissolves, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable for resolving your concerns. Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free half-hour consultation.
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Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/best-predictor-divorce-age-couples-cohabit-study-says-131122832.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/10/cohabitation-doesnt-cause-divorce-after-all/