Study: Living Together Before Marriage Not A Big Deal - The Chicago Family Law Blog

The Chicago Family Law Blog

Study: Living Together Before Marriage Not A Big Deal

While some religious groups may still frown upon the act of living together as a couple before getting married, an article in USA Today cites a study concluding that prenuptial cohabitation has little effect on the ultimate success of the union. The report by the National Center for Health Statistics based its findings on a sample of nearly 13,000 families.

So even though the number of cohabitating couples and children born out of wedlock continue to climb, according to another USA Today article, it doesn't translate into a corresponding increased demand for divorce attorneys in Chicago.

Past research, according to the first article, indicated that those who described themselves as "not married but living together with a partner of the opposite sex" in fact did have a higher divorce rate after marriage.

So what has changed?

More than 65 percent of US couples cohabitate before getting married nowadays, meaning there is a much larger sample of truly committed couples putting off nuptials. Also, as Pennsylvania State University sociologist Paul Amato states, "maybe it's not such a big deal" now that it's considered normal.

While those who did not cohabitate before marriage had a tiny edge over those who did, researchers such as University of Michigan sociologist Pamela Smock believe it's no longer a major factor:

"On the basis of these numbers, there is not a negative effect of cohabitation on marriages, plain and simple."

One interesting distinction found in the study is that those who move in together without making a clear decision to eventually get married have an increased risk of divorce, compared to those who make plans to marry before shacking up.

The 55-page report entitled "Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States" was published in February of this year (PDF). 

Related Resources:

  • Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Cohabitation and the Law (FindLaw)
  • Happily Even After: Cohabitation Agreements (FindLaw Law & Daily Life Blog)
  • Directory of Chicago Family Law Attorneys (FindLaw)