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Study looks at the effects of cohabitation on marriage stability

Ohio couples who live together before marriage may be more likely to get a divorce in the long term. A study that appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family found that cohabitation increased the risk of divorce.

These findings contradict other studies that have shown cohabitation lowers the likelihood of divorce. The study authors said previous studies had been biased and only looked at the shorter-term effects. According to this study, first-year divorce rates were indeed higher for spouses who did not cohabitate before marriage. Researchers theorized that this was because there was an immediate adjustment period after marriage for these couples. However, there was a reversal in the fortunes of these marriages in the long term. Non-cohabitating spouses who survived the first year ended up having longer-lasting marriages.

Researchers used data from the National Surveys of Family Growth. The study was of women who were younger than 45 and who were in their first marriage between 1970 and 2015.

Divorce can be difficult no matter how long the spouses stayed together. A divorce that happens after just a year or two of marriage could be fairly straightforward, especially if the couple is young. There might be no children and no significant property that needs to be divided. Couples who have been married for a little longer might have children, and this means negotiating child custody and support. The couple might also own a home that needs to be divided in some way during the divorce. An attorney could help soon-to-be exes through this process.

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