May, 22, 2013 Lansing, MI- It used to be that cohabitation was taboo. It was something few couples did, and up until the past 20 years couples might have lived together, but it wasn’t something they would tell anyone, especially not their parents. But things have drastically changed and now a large number of Michigan couples are living together before they tie the knot and many of them are having children.


A Center for Disease Control study released this year showed that at least 48 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 say they lived with a partner prior to their first marriage. In contrast, prior to 1995 only 34 percent of women admitted to living with their partners as their first union.

“Instead of marriage, people are moving into cohabitation as a first union,” demographer Casey Copen, the report’s lead author, explained to USA Today. “It’s kind of a ubiquitous phenomenon now.”

The study also came up with some other interesting statistics, 40 percent of those first cohabitations resulted in marriage within 3 years and 32 percent of couples were still together in the same time period, 27 percent dissolved.

“The United States has long had the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy nation and now these relationships are lengthening,” sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told USA Today.

Couples aren’t just living together; they are also having children together. The study also revealed that 20 percent of cohabitating women were likely to get pregnant within the first year.

“What we’re seeing here is the emergence of children within cohabiting unions among the working class and the poor,” Cherlin says. “They have high standards for marriage and they don’t think they can meet them for now, but increasingly, it’s not stopping them from having a child. Having children within cohabiting unions is much more common among everybody but the college educated.”

The CDC report further explains “Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage.”

But what does cohabitation have to do with divorce? Remember that 27 percent of cohabitating couples break up, they split up and they often have the same problems as married couples who split up. These cohabitating couples buy houses together, share their money and assets and have children together.

The law regarding cohabitating couples is a limited, not providing the exactly the same protections that divorcing couples enjoy.  Cohabitating couples don’t have to legally dissolve their unions but many of them face the same issues that married couples do; they have to figure out child custody arrangements and divide assets.

Family law attorney Stu Shafer has represented couples in Michigan for over three decades. Transitioning from a couple to a single person is hard on everyone involved; Mr. Shafer wants to make this change as painless as possible and will stand by your side through every challenge your separation involves. Don’t wait, call his office today and set up a consultation.