Cohabitation increasingly a way of avoiding divorce over 50

Back in the day, cohabitation was scandalous. It was simply and completely inappropriate for unmarried couples to live together. Over time, American society softened its views on cohabitation. Today, cohabitation is widely viewed as a common-sense way for people to get to know each other before marriage.

But even view of cohabitation is shifting, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center. The number of cohabiting adults age 50 and older has gone up 75 percent over the last decade; a rise likely due to the fact that many of those people have gone through a divorce with difficult disputes over property division or child custody.

“Cohabiting adults 50 and older make up one-quarter of all cohabiters today,” said a Pew research analyst. “And that’s striking because cohabitation used to be a step before marriage.”

It certainly makes sense that many who have gone through a contentious split have little desire to do so again. It’s also understandable that those who went through an amicable divorce with few bitter disagreements might be a little less nuptials-shy.

A recent news article on the research asked a cohabiting Georgia couple why living together makes sense for them and other “gray” couples. “My thinking is, in the latter half of life’s course, older adults are innovating in their relationships,” the Decatur woman said. “There’s a different calculus. It does challenge the centrality of marriage. (But) most have been with their partners 10 or more years, making it more marriagelike.”

For those facing the prospect of divorce after 50, there will often be serious questions that need to be resolved, commonly revolving around division of assets such as pensions, retirement funds, property and more. To learn more about your legal options, talk to an experienced family law attorney.

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