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Living together before marriage may increase divorce risk

According to the Barna Trends 2017 report, a majority of Americans believe that cohabitation prior to marriage is a good idea. However, some New Jersey couples may be surprised to see that a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family challenged that perception. The research indicates that people who live together before they get married are at a higher risk for divorce.

The study, called "Cohabitation Experience and Cohabitation's Association with Marital Dissolution," suggests that the premarital cohabitation effect operates to make divorce increasingly likely as the marriage continues. The authors of the study used data from the National Surveys of Family Growth, analyzing 216,455 couple years and using history time event methodology to predict divorce.

The data used for the study was a sample of U.S. women 44 years old or younger who were in their first marriages between 1970 and 2015. Some scholarly publications have claimed that the premarital cohabitation effect has disappeared for people who have gotten married since 2008 or 2003. These papers seemed to rely on the idea that living together has recently lost much of the stigma that it previously had. The Cohabitation Experience study, though, disputes these claims.

For people who lived with more than just the partner they eventually married, divorce rates were even higher. Couples in New Jersey who are approaching or going through divorce might want to schedule legal consultations. An attorney with experience in divorce law might be able to help by negotiating the terms of property division. Legal counsel could also help develop a child custody plan that is acceptable to the parties.

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