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Study looks at link between divorce and premarital cohabitation

When couples in California live together before getting married, they might experience something researchers call the "premarital cohabitation effect." This is the name given to the struggles cohabitating couples face after getting married. Many researchers have found that over time, this effect eventually dissipates.

However, a study that appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family in September contradicts these findings. Researchers argued that previous studies didn't take enough of a long-term view. They found that while couples who didn't live together prior to marriage had a harder adjustment in the first year of being wed, after that first year, their chances of getting a divorce was actually lower than that of couples who had cohabited. Researchers said this could be because the couples who didn't live together had a more immediate adjustment to make just after marriage.

The study used data on women who were younger than 45 and in first marriages from 1970 to 2015. This data was provided by the National Surveys of Family Growth.

How long a couple has been married may affect how complicated the divorce process is. In California, which is a community property state, most assets and debts acquired after the marriage must be divided equally in the divorce. However, couples can come to other arrangements that do not necessarily involve splitting everything 50/50. With help from an attorney, couples might be able to negotiate property division and child custody instead of going to litigation. This could save time and money for both parties.

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