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Cohabiting couples less likely to eventually marry

Couples who live together are less likely to eventually marry than ever before, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from Bowling Green State University in Ohio compared the stability of cohabiting couples’ relationships in the early 1980s to those today. They used data from 707 women who cohabited in the 1980s, 772 women who did so in the early 2000s, and the National Survey of Family Growth, which gathers information on various aspects of family life.

Their study found that couples who live together now do so for longer than their counterparts in the 1980s. This could be a result of “the declining rate of transitioning to marriage”. Researchers found that modern cohabitants are half as likely to marry as those in the 1980s were.

Additionally, cohabitants are 20 per cent more likely to separate. The data showed that half of all modern cohabitations dissolve within the first two years.

During a radio appearance to discuss the study, author Dr Wendy Manning said “there has been a doubling in the proportion of adults who have cohabited” over the last 25 years.

She added that the United States had reached “a historic high point” in the age people marry for the first time. On average it is 27 years old for women and 29 for men.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Luke says:

    “Researchers found that modern cohabitants are half as likely to marry as those in the 1980s were.”
    This is predictable, cohabitation has gone up because many people are slowly catching on to the fact that marriage is a terrible deal for one of the parties, they are cohabiting INSTEAD of marrying, in reality it is not primarily about delaying marriage.
    Some women avoid marriage due to their feminist ideals – but I think the main reason for this change is that many sensible men who can still think with the head on their shoulders when dating have worked out that marriage is like putting your head in a financial guillotine – which the woman can trigger at any time in the future.

    • Stella says:

      It isn’t just men that are catching onto the fact that marriage can be “like putting your head in a financial guillotine”…women recognise this too and are either putting it off or choosing not to enter into it.
      Both men and women now need a sensible solution to cohabitation that protects both parties from all eventualities – Scotland is basically there..
      When will we catch up!

  2. JamesB says:

    You could (and probably should) amend the title without the words cohabiting and eventually for the reasons Luke puts above. Except of course in immigrant, example Muslim communities, where they divorce using other (in their eyes) more just law, like Sharia law.

    I have a seventh day Adventist friend, he says they stopped buying houses in their community as the women were too often divorcing their husbands for the house, which is very (too) common under the unjust amoral, immoral divorce law we have.

    At least if you don’t get married the other half of the couple can’t steel the house without paying for it, which is what happens in the manifestly unjust divorce laws we have.

  3. JamesB says:

    Just a thought, regulating relationships is perhaps a fascist approach. Like having to qualify to have children or get married. Perhaps the only way forward is, like the French do, to ensure you REALLY have the agreement of both parties in their affairs. Prenups would be one way of doing that. Alternatively, just leave alone and, as is happening, marriage as we know it dies as people have no faith in family law and instead all the government forms (as they do now) say partner on them. So, that is what feminism and the progressive laws have done, make it less likely for my children to marry, not good that at all.

  4. JamesB says:

    The house was one example, there are many such unjust examples, that is why the courts are not open to the public. Still word is out that these courts are not fair.

  5. JamesB says:

    By these courts I mean the family law courts in England and Wales. In Scotland they are ok. My pre-nup says, where any doubt Scottish law to be used. To get married under English and Welsh Ancillary relief law is not a sensible approach. Another thought for the decline, prenups are expensive in the US. Perhaps lawyers should make them more affordable and done by default also, so they don’t look like you are thinking about splitting up when you get married. Again, tht’s what the French quite rightly do by default. Indeed the best systems in the world are in Scotland and France for Divorce law, in that order. Israeli law in this area isn’t far behind also coming in third behind those two.

  6. JamesB says:

    By Divorce law above I meant divorce and cohabitation laws and family laws in those countries.

  7. Kioi says:

    I would also follow suite before committing for the long overhaul. This gives couples a chance to know each other very well.

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