Marriage And Cohabitation In United States
We came across an Insider article recently that used Census Bureau information to determine the average age of marriage for each state. In Arizona, the average age of marriage for men is 29.5 years old and for woman 27.5 years old. We have talked before about how millennials have changed the face of marriage. They tend to wait until they are older to get married and divorce less often than the generation before them.
Do people who wait until they are older to get married increase their odds of staying together?
From 2008 to 2016, the US divorce rate dropped by 18 percent according to University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen. Cohen says that “One of the reasons for the declining is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated.”
Choosing Another Route
Another reason for the decline in the divorce rate can be attributed to the fact that many couples simply choose not to get married. Society has become much more accepting of two people living together as a couple than it was even just two decades ago.
When a cohabitating couple does separate, which they do at rates higher than married couples, there is no way to measure the split. No divorce will be recorded. This means that the lower divorce rate in the US could be a slightly deceptive number.
Cohabitating With Children
The National Center for Family and Marriage says that “Cohabitation has become a typical pathway to family formation in the United States.”
- Over the past 25 years, the share of young and middle-aged Americans who have cohabitated has doubled.
- Pew Research says that those 25 to 34 are most likely to be cohabitating.
- In 2013, around 7 percent of children were living with cohabitating parents.
- Cohabitating couples are five times as likely to be separated.
Cohabitating couples with children face a range of issues if they separate. Just because they were not legally married does not mean that they will not face similar issues. Cohabitating couples who separate must still deal with issues of child custody and child support.
Aside from child custody and child support, cohabitating couples face some challenges if they separate. When a married couple divorces, the family court system guides the process through established law. This is a community property state and community property law controls the division of marital assets. However, cohabitating couples do not have the benefit of established family court laws when they separate.
But, is that not considered “common law marriage?”
Common law marriage is a term that many people are familiar with, one applied to couples who live together as if they are married. However, Arizona does not recognize common law marriages that originated in the state (though they do accept common law marriages from states that recognize them as legally acceptable).
This has serious implications if those who are cohabitating separate. Consider the following common issues that married couples face when divorcing:
- Division of assets
- Division of debts
- Spousal maintenance (alimony)
Common law couples in Arizona will only have rights to property that is in their name in the event of a separation. This can lead to significant disagreements between the two parties, especially if they have been together for a long period of time.
What You Can Do Now
If you have a common law marriage, whether by cohabitation in Arizona or one from another state, you may need to seek help from an Arizona family law attorney when facing a separation. Let a qualified and experienced counsel guide you through the steps to take.
Click here for information on what is a covenant marriage.