It’s fairly common for couples in Illinois and other parts of the country to opt to live together before considering marriage. The logic behind arrangements like this is that cohabitation prior to legally tying the knot gives two people a chance to see how well-suited they really are for one another. However, when couples who have lived together eventually get married, their risk of divorce may be greater according to findings from a study on this topic.

For their study, researchers looked at data from women in the United States 44 years of age and younger on their first marriages over a 45-year period. Based on the results, the study’s authors believe what’s termed the “premarital cohabitation effect” appears to be true in that people who live together before exchanging vows are more likely to end up seeking the services of a family law attorney due to marital struggles.

Other researchers claim that the cohabitation effect has disappeared. The study’s authors admit that couples who marry without having lived together first may have a short-term increased risk of divorce because of the initial adjustment period; researchers found that living together pre-marriage reduces the odds of untying the knot within the first year of marriage. However, the odds of divorce actually increase for couples who lived together first during the subsequent years following the first year of marriage according to data from multiple years accumulated by National Surveys of Family Growth that researchers evaluated.

Regardless of what drives the decision to end a marriage or what arrangements a couple had prior to their wedding day, seeking the assistance of a family law attorney may help ease the stress that often goes along with legally ending a union. In addition to helping negotiate the divorce settlement, a lawyer might play a key role in settling disputes or disagreements over marital assets, joint property, spousal support payments for a lower-earning spouse and child custody.