Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Cohabitation trend is increasing as remarriage rates decline

There have been many changes in the way couples relate to each other in the past few decades. Since the invention of no-fault divorces and a decline in the stigma attached to divorce, couples have expanded their relationship options. Those who have been previously married and are giving love a second chance may be less willing to jump back into a marriage, even with the new popularity of prenuptial agreements.

In 1990 50 out of every 1,000 divorced individuals remarried. By 2011 that number was down to 29. In the past 20 years there has been a 40 percent drop in the remarriage rate. The numbers show that this decrease is happening across the board regardless of age but affects those under 35 the most. While the numbers are inflated due to couples waiting later to get married, it underlines the growing trend of couples living in non-marital cohabitation rather than remarrying. The reasons for such behavior are as varied as the couples, but often are the result of not wanting to repeat the divorce process, and living without certain legal restraints presented in marriage.

Even couples who choose to cohabitate will face family law issues. If there are children from prior marriages, adoption and other endeavors of the step-parent to care for the child may face road blocks because of the couple's status. Utah law specifically prohibits a cohabitating adult from adopting the other's child. For some, most issues can be alleviated by the creation of a cohabitation agreement which can be considered equivalent to an unmarried couples' prenuptial agreement.

While cohabitation may be a way to prevent a second divorce, it also comes packed with its own difficulties and drawbacks. For some, the desires that might result in cohabitation may be fulfilled with the creation of contracts such as prenuptial agreements.

Source: USA Today, "Remarriage rate declining as more opt for cohabitation," Sharon Jayson, September 12, 2013

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