CDC study makes interesting findings on marriage, divorce, cohabitation

When it comes to discussions of marriage, divorce and cohabitation, there are at least two points that will more than likely emerge during the conversation. First, that nearly half of all first marriages end in divorce and, second, that living together prior to marriage will probably result in a split somewhere down the road.

Interestingly, a recently completed study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped determine whether either of these widely held beliefs are actually accurate.

Specifically, from 2006 to 2010, the CDC surveyed 22,000 men and women ranging in age and marital status, asking them a series of questions about marriage, family life, etc.

As it turns out, the CDC found that nearly 50 percent of all first marriages do indeed end in divorce within 20 years. Regarding the impact that cohabitation has on marriage, however, the study found that it actually has little to no impact. The reason? Social attitudes have shifted over time.

“It’s not playing as big a role in predicting divorce as it used to,” said Casey Copen, the primary study of the author.

While the CDC study found that cohabitation wasn’t necessarily a precursor to divorce, it did uncover some rather interesting trends concerning the practice. Specifically, researchers found the following:

  • Cohabitating couples who were engaged were nearly as likely as those who never lived together prior to their wedding to have a marriage that lasted at least 15 years
  • Cohabitating couples who lived together but who were not engaged were less likely to have a marriage that lasted 10 to 15 years than their engaged counterparts

Interestingly, CDC researchers indicated that more relaxed attitudes about marriage/commitment, education levels and previous negative family experiences may help explain these trends among cohabitating couples.

What do you think of these findings? Are engaged couples living together before marriage really more likely to stay together?

Stay tuned for updates from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about dissolution of marriage, child custody, or other divorce-related issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Pioneer Press, “Moving in together before marriage no longer predicts divorce, study finds” March 22, 2012