Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices
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Cohabiting considerations for divorced or unmarried parents

In recent years, there has been a cultural shift with regard to ideas related to marriage. Thirty years ago, 72 percent of Americans reported being married. Today, that number hovers around 50 percent. This shift doesn't mean that people are foregoing long term or committed romantic relationships, rather many are choosing to cohabit rather than marry.

While some couples believe cohabitation to be the best alternative to getting married, living and sharing a life together still presents many unique and complicated issues. This is especially true of couples who either have children together or children from a previous marriage or relationship.

According to The Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans choose to live together prior to getting married. Research indicates, however, that couples who choose to cohabit are more likely to split up or divorce. This information should be taken into consideration prior to making the decision to move in together, particularly when there are children involved.

It's important that couples openly communicate and discuss concerns and potential problems prior to moving in with one another. Many cohabitating couples eventually split due to unmet needs and expectations. It's wise, therefore, for both partners to set clear expectations about their current and future relationship goals. It's also important to discuss and establish ground rules for household routines and to agree upon how children will be disciplined.

The last thing any parent wants is to see their child hurt. It's important, therefore, that parents who choose to cohabit with a partner consider the numerous factors involved and work to make the best decision for both themselves and their children.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Cohabitation With Children: What Are the Risks?," Terry Gaspard, MSW LICSW, Sep. 12, 2013

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