Lately there has been discussion in the media about whether living together with the person you are dating before marriage increases the likelihood that you’ll divorce someday. A psychologist published an article in the New York Times this spring alleging that cohabitation makes divorce more likely. But other writers, such as the author of this blog, have said that cohabiting can be a meaningful step towards marriage. Is there a right answer?
I can’t say, except that there does not seem to be a definitive answer. The psychologist’s article focused on the fact that women view living together as a step towards marriage, while men view it as a way to test out living with his girlfriend and as a way to forestall a more permanent commitment. But the blogger believed that living together is an important step in a relationship, and if a relationship fails, it is because the two people were not meant for each other, not because they shared a kitchen before they tied the knot.
It’s an interesting question, and lots of divorce clients search for the exact cause of their divorce. But the fact is that more and more couples are cohabiting before marriage, and regardless of the ultimate effects of doing so, cohabitation can have an effect on marriage and even divorce. Couples who move in together should talk about some of the same things their married counterparts discuss – things like sharing finances, names on deeds and leases, and childcare responsibilities, if children are involved.
Many couples prefer to keep separate bank accounts and avoid sharing title to property before getting married. This is advisable in most cases, because in case of a breakup, it is easy to part ways without facing financial complications. But some couples do want to share finances, and they should communicate openly about their reasons. We recommend that part of the financial honesty and long range planning that will make the financial side of your marriage partnership successful include drafting a prenuptial agreement. For assistance with this document please contact us directly at 215-523-6900.
Cohabitation has both social and financial consequences. Regardless of your motive for moving in with your significant other, you should consider discussing finances with him or her. Doing so will make your life easier, and who knows, maybe it can lead to a happier marriage.