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Rise in cohabitation could spur family law issues

Texas residents may have grown up believing that you get married first and then have children. Living together or having children out of wedlock was taboo. Now, times have changed and living together – instead of getting married – is now the norm when a couple faces an unplanned pregnancy.

Unmarried cohabitation has now surpassed “shotgun weddings.” Instead of living as single moms, many women decide to move in with their boyfriends and still raise the baby together – just without marriage. Many couples want to postpone marriage until they are both emotionally and financially ready. With good jobs getting harder to come by, cohabitation may be the norm for many years to come.

Data from 2006-2010 showed that 5.3 percent of couples who had an unplanned pregnancy chose to get married. Compare that to the more than 18 percent of couples who choose to cohabitate, and it’s easy to see that cohabitation is the preferred choice for many in a relationship.

However, just because cohabitation is a trend doesn’t mean that this is the best choice for every couple. Unmarried couples with children face the same family law issues as those who are married. They are at a higher risk of breaking up. In fact, a study showed that after five years, only about half of cohabitation couples were still living together. Even though the couple doesn’t have to go through a divorce, they may still be involved in a dispute over child support and custody issues. This can affect the child’s emotional development over time. This needs to be taken into consideration when making a decision that involves the lives of children.

Source: 
Star Tribune, “In a first, cohabitation surpasses marriage among dating couples in US who become parents” Hope Yen, Jan. 06, 2014

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