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Survey shows Cohabitation before Marriage does Not Lead to Divorce

According to a new scientific survey, cohabitation before marriage does not affect a couple’s prospects of getting divorced.

The study was carried out by sociologist Arielle Kuperberg from the University of Carolina and involved comparing relationships using the length of time that couples had lived together before marriage, instead of the age when they moved in together. Data collected by the US government’s National Survey of Family Growth in 1996, 2002 and 2006 which related to 7000 people who had been married at least once was compared. Ms Kuperberg compared when the couples moved in together and if and when they divorced, and found no correlation between pre-marital cohabitation and divorce rates.

Ms Kuperberg’s conclusions contradict reports dating back to the 1970’s which claimed that cohabitation caused a spike in divorce among couples as a result of ‘sliding’, the inclination to get married out of comfort.

The study also provides support to the findings of a study carried out in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That study established that in 2010 nearly 75% of women under the age of 30 had cohabited with a partner outside of marriage, compared with 70% in 2002 and 62% in 1995.

Only 23% of women in 2010 were already married when they began living with their partner. This number is down from 30% in 2002 and 39% in 2005. This provides more support to the theory that pre-marital cohabitation is on the rise. In the three years of the study, 40% of the cohabiting participants got married, 32% stayed together and 27% broke up. It also found that the length of time that people live together before marrying is increasing.

By Amy Chesterfield, a Family Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

Family Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide expert legal advice, guidance and representation on all aspects of cohabitation. For a free initial consultation call freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.

Family law

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