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Age at Time of Cohabitation Could Be Predictor of Divorce

For many years, it was commonly accepted that cohabitation before marriage increased a couple’s risk of getting divorced. However, research from the Council on Contemporary Families suggests cohabitation does not influence the likelihood of divorce—and never has. Instead, it is the age at the time of cohabitation that’s most likely to predict a divorce.

Couples who live together before they get married are typically younger than those who move in after the wedding. This trend has led social scientists to mistakenly believe it was the living together that was the root factor, when in fact it was more about the age of the couple.

Researchers found couples who began living together (whether married or unmarried) before the age of 23 were far more likely to break up later than couples who did not live together before 23. Additional studies found that the longer a couple waited to begin living together, the better the chances they would have long-term success in their relationship.

Type of cohabitation is a key factor

Other factors also play a role in the likelihood of couple getting divorced. Couples with higher levels of education tended to wait longer to move in with their significant others. Half of all women with a college education waited at least a year before moving in with their partner, and about one-third waited at least two years. Meanwhile, more than half of women with just a high school diploma moved in with their partner within six months.

The researchers conclude that the type of premarital cohabitation predicts divorce, rather than the cohabitation itself. Couples with lower incomes and less education, for example, typically begin cohabitating due to financial pressures. This can put a lot of strain on a relationship from the start.

If you are considering divorce and would like to learn more about your legal options, speak with a skilled family law attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.