Leaving Marriage Behind: Many Couples Deciding to Remain Unmarried

A recent study by the National Marriage Project took a closer look at the state of marriages in the U.S. The study focused on whether couples who had children were married or unmarried. The results indicated that a person's education level played a large role in his or her decision to get married or start a family.

Participants were grouped into three categories: those with less than high school education, those with a high school diploma, and those with at least a bachelor's degree. For women with less than a high school diploma, 54 percent of those who had children were unmarried. If they had a high school diploma, the number drops to 44 percent. When the woman had at least a bachelor's degree, only 6 percent of the children were born to unmarried mothers.

Although parents are electing to not get married, many are still living together as a family.

Uses and Benefits of Cohabitation Agreements

Couples who choose to live together without marrying need to take steps to protect themselves. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement can spell out what each person is entitled to in the event that a relationship ends, especially when you are buying a home and sharing property together.

In marriages, property that is acquired during the marriage is presumed to be marital property. During a divorce there is a division of property, and assets are divided equitably between the parties. Each spouse's contributions will be balanced with the assets and debts of the marriage.

However, unmarried couples who own assets together, or make contributions to their partner's assets, are vulnerable in the event they part. For instance, consider the situation of one party buying a home, and the other not sharing ownership, but making significant contributions towards the mortgage.

If the couple parts ways, the one without ownership of the home may be without legal recourse to recoup the money they contributed. A cohabitation agreement, however, could specify that each party should be reimbursed for contributions to the home, or receive compensation if the home is sold or transferred.

With marriage rates declining, parties need to know how to protect themselves and any investments they make during the time they are together. While it might be disheartening to think about the end of a relationship, a cohabitation agreement can clearly lay out what happens if the parties decide to move on and protect your financial future. Speak to an experienced family law attorney at Andrew Cores Family Law Group to learn more about these agreements and understand the options available in your specific situation.

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