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Study looks at effects of cohabitation on divorce risk

Couples in Illinois who live together before marriage might struggle more and may have a higher likelihood of divorce than those who do not. According to a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, what researchers have called the "premarital cohabitation effect" does not disappear during the marriage.

Earlier research found that couples who lived together before marriage struggled during the marriage, but the recent study's authors said those researchers did not look closely enough at the long term when they said the premarital cohabitation effect vanished. In fact, only in the first year of marriage are couples who did not live together before marriage more likely to get a divorce.

The study authors said this disparity could be because the couples who lived together before marriage did not have as big an adjustment to make in the first year as those who did not. The study used data from the National Surveys on Family Growth on women who were under 45 and in their first marriages between 1970 and 2015.

In a divorce, couples may need to divide property as well as reach agreements on custody, child support, and alimony. The couple might be able to negotiate these issues without having to go to court. Negotiation may be more desirable since it can save the couple time and money and can be less emotionally taxing than going to litigation. It may also allow couples more control over how property is divided and the child custody schedule. However, if couples are unable to reach an agreement and have to go to court, their respective attorneys can be of assistance.

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