According to a study by the Pew Research Center from November 2019, more people in the United States are cohabitating than ever before. In fact, there are now more couples who have previously engaged in cohabitation than there are couples who have ever been married, a sharp change from how things were only a couple of decades ago. These trends can have significant implications for the practice of family law, as the field copes with these changes in how people choose to live together.
Cohabitation is the practice of a romantically involved couple living together while remaining unmarried. While once considered a scandalous practice, cohabitation has become increasingly normalized, with many couples either choosing to live together for a period of time before getting married, or simply never getting married at all. A full 85% of people say it is now acceptable for unmarried couples to live together, with 69% saying it is acceptable even if they never plan to get married.
The primary complication is that much of family law is built around the assumption that a couple who is living together, sharing property and having children will get married. When they don’t, it can create a lot of problems if and when they split apart, requiring them to come up with their own solution to issues like dividing property, inheritance, or visitation and custody rights. Ironically, this comes at a time when common law marriage has fallen out of vogue, and many states (including New York) have outlawed the practice of common law marriage outright.
If you are living with a partner outside of marriage, you should look at your legal options for taking care of yourself and your partner. Contact the family lawyers at the Marnell Law Group. They have extensive experience in custody and visitation disputes and prenuptial agreements and will fight hard on your behalf. Call (516) 542-9000 for more information, or contact us to schedule a consultation.