Living Together Lawyers

Your significant other and you have been dating for a while now and it seems like you spend most of your time at just one domicile. You watch the same shows on the same streaming services, buy food together, and it seems like you share your toothbrush, cosmetics, and clothes. Naturally, when one of you suggests moving in together, the decision seems obvious. Think of all the time you could save driving between apartments? Why pay two Internet bills instead of one? Imagine how much time you could spend together. Sounds perfect, right?

This is how many couples end up living together before marriage. But is that all there is to it?

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What Science has to Say

Many young couples choose to cohabitate because of the potential economic benefits, such as splitting bills. Others see it as a way to practice living together before they are engaged in a common law marriage or a civil partnership. However, the benefits may not always work out the way we think.

According to For Your Marriage, a self-identifying resource for Catholics teaching cohabitation before marriage, some 60% of all current marriages in the US are preceded by couples living together. They also claim such relationships are 46% more likely to end in divorce, with that number increasing in cases where partners have lived with significant others before. The Pew Research Center found in their own study that closer to 65% of marriages start as cohabitation relationships, with young adults born after 1980 to be more likely than any previous generation to live together before marriage.

Galena Rhoades of the National Marriage Project said in an article for NPR, “Millenials Navigate the Ups and Downs of Cohabitation,” that the major issues with living together before marriage are the issues that arise from a break-up. Rhoades says that ending a cohabitation is much like a divorce; material possessions need to be split up, joint-finances and bills must be separated, and mutual friends often end up on one-side or the other, especially if the split is ugly.

However, Rhoades also notes that many couples who understand these potential issues see the benefits as outweighing the risks. Such couples cite financial and emotional stability, which allows them be happy together in a way they weren’t when living apart. One couple she interviewed for her article said, “I get to hug her when she comes home. I get to kiss her goodbye in the morning…we both now actually get to save money because we’re not spending half our paychecks on rent.”

What’s the Answer?

The real answer is, there is no one right answer. Cohabitation can be tricky and may add strain to a relationship. The best way to approach a joint living situation is to take into account the pros and cons of how it will affect your particular relationship and decide together how to proceed. As with anything in a strong long-term relationship, make continual note of how things are going and adjust accordingly as needed.