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Study examines effects of cohabitation

Couples in Missouri who cohabit before they get married might be more likely to get a divorce, according to a new study. The results of the study, which seemingly dispels popular notions about relationships, were published in the September edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Researchers found that the couples who cohabited were more likely to face struggles during marriage. The only time in which this does not appear to be true is in the first year of matrimony. Spouses who did not live together tend to struggle more right off the bat. Researchers attribute this to a more significant adjustment period. However, after that year, the greater risk is for those who cohabited.

The study contradicted previous studies that have said partners who live together before marriage are less likely to divorce. The study authors said earlier research had been biased and also tended to look only at the short term. The study used data from the National Surveys of Family Growth on women under 45 who were in their first marriage between 1970 and 2015.

Divorce can be difficult for both short- and long-term couples. However, the concerns are generally different depending on the length of the marriage. After just one year, the couple might not have any children or shared property to divide. After a few years, couples might have children and may need to negotiate child custody and support. Older couples might have accumulated significant property, and this can make property division complex. No matter what type of issue a divorcing couple may be dealing with, an attorney can help with the proceedings.

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