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Study suggests living together pre-marriage boosts divorce risk

Couples in Texas sometimes prefer to test the waters and live together before making the decision to get married. While there is a certain logic behind this type of arrangement, a new study on premarital cohabitation and divorce suggests that couples opting to go this route are more likely to end up not living so happily ever after. For the study, researchers evaluated several decades of data from U.S. women in their first marriages who were 44 or younger. Their findings appear to validate what's termed the "premarital cohabitation effect."

This concept basically states that people who live together before walking down the aisle are more likely to face struggles during their marriage that may lead to divorce. Previous research on the cohabitation effect suggests it's not as relevant today, but the study's authors contend that such findings are only based on short-term assessments. Researchers admit that couples opting to go straight into marriage have an increased risk of divorce during their first year together because of the initial adjustment period.

Ultimately, researchers found that cohabitation prior to tying the knot only lessened the risk of divorce for the first year of marriage. The odds of a marriage ending actually increase for each year spent together as a legal couple beyond the first one. The Institute for Family Studies backs up the findings, noting that there is "very scant evidence" to suggest that living together before saying "I do" improves the odds of enjoying a successful marriage.

During the end of a marriage, there are several issues that a divorce attorney may help a client work out, especially if a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement doesn't exist. For couples without children, top concerns often include who will get the marital home and how joint assets will be split. Such matters are often addressed when negotiating a settlement agreement. If children are involved, a lawyer may help with the process of working out custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and child support payments for the non-custodial spouse.

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