In Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos, many people make the choice to live together before they get married. While some believe that living together prior to tying the knot is a good thing because you can determine if you are actually happy under the same roof, there is conflicting evidence about what non-marital cohabitation means for marriage and divorce. A family law attorney knows that living together when not married can also result in complicated questions regarding what happens to any shared property, assets and kids if you decide to separate.
Living Together Before Marriage and Divorce Risks
The New York Post recently published an article suggesting that divorce may be more likely because of living together. The article also looks at why this might be the case.
The co-director for Marital and Family Studies began to wonder in the 1990’s whether couples who are living together are actually happy together or are staying because it is convenient. For many individuals living with a girlfriend or boyfriend who consider the question of whether they’d actually stay in that relationship if they were not living in the same home, the answer is that they wouldn’t be together unless they were living together. In other words, people stay together only or primarily because it would be too difficult to extricate themselves from the relationship.
When a relationship first begins, dopamine and other chemicals are released into the body as people begin to fall in love. Sexual activity further increases the production of these chemicals. The chemicals can cloud decision-making abilities and people will start to do things that tie them together or lock them into a relationship, such as moving in together, adopting a shared pet, co-signing loans or getting joint accounts.
When this initial rush wears off, some people may find themselves in relationships that it is difficult to disentangle yourself from. If you have a shared lease, shared assets or a shared pet, you may not know how to divide up all of this property without help from a divorce court. As a result, you end up having a hard time getting out or you may not even want to try to leave because of the complications that would create.
Some couples who find themselves in this stage simply stay in the relationship and move on to the next logical step of marriage even though they aren’t that committed or enamored. This helps to explain why in a survey of couples married for less than 10 years, men who had lived with their wives before getting married rated themselves “considerably lower in dedication,” and had a lower intrinsic motivation to be with their spouse than those who had not lived together before marriage.
This has very real long-term consequences for relationships. In a 2010 random-sample study, 20 percent of people who married prior to living together divorced and 28 percent of people who lived together before getting engaged divorced.
Couples need to consider the risks that living together creates, in terms of their current right to property and asset as well as in terms of the long-term future of their relationship.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX divorce lawyer today. Serving Austin and surrounding suburbs including Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.