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Is Cohabitation Really Worse than Marriage?

The National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and family in the United States, has a new report out on divorce, cohabitation and marriage in the U.S. Over the last four decades, there has been a twelvefold increase in the number of cohabiting households. The report says that 42 % of children have lived with cohabiting parents by age 12, and only 24% have lived with a parent who had divorced.

The researchers don’t think this is a good thing. They say that, “family instability is on the rise for American children as a whole” because “more couples are having children in cohabiting unions, which are very unstable.” The research also indicates that “children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems…compared to children in intact, married families.” It also showed that “rates of child abuse are lowest in families with two married biological parents, and highest when there is an unmarried unrelated partner in the home.”

 

Cohabitating couples with children may have their problems, at least according to this research, but it is worth looking at why people don’t want to marry. Take the Millennial generation, or Echo Boomers. An average of 22% of people ages 18-31 are not married. Why might they not want to marry? Here are just three reasons:

 

1. They have witnessed a lot of divorce from generations before them. If it was with their own parents, they experienced the divorce as the child of the parents, and all the pain and ugliness that that can include, from custody battles to trying to force alliances with one parent or the other.

2. Financial concerns. This generation is suffering from the state of the economy. A Pew Research Center report indicates that 10% say the poor economy has forced them to move back in with their parents. Twelve percent say they have had to get a roommate. Fifteen percent younger than 35 say they have postponed getting married because of the bad economic times we are in.

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I am the author of Families of Two, and blog about being childless by choice and more at La Vie Childfree. Along with being a “go to” on the topic of childless by choice and writing nonfiction books, I talk books at LiveTrue Books blog, and help people …

Laura Carroll’s author pageAuthor’s Blog

After Valentine’s Day Comes the Divorce Season

The followinf are some insights from my own experience, from being a credit counselor for four years and from reading and speaking to many divorce professionals:

1. Try to stay calm, not only for yourself but also for your children. If your marriage is over, proceed as if you’re dissolving a business partnership. Keep emotions out of it if possible and treat it as a math problem. Gather all of the documentation pertaining to your marital finances. If you don’t understand what you own or owe as a couple, write your questions down and ask a professional that you respect – financial adviser, accountant, banker, etc. Your lawyer can recommend a financial professional if you don’t know any or you can check out the websites I have listed below. Just make sure you get the answers you seek.

2. In theory, assume you will be dividing everything acquired from the marriage in half. Even if you didn’t have a paying job but were taking care of the household and children you contributed economic value to the marriage. Creating a balance sheet will give you a general idea of what you own and owe as a couple and potentially what you might have after the divorce. Evaluate the assets and liabilities by category, and in particular, determine the liquidity of the different assets, meaning how easily they can be turned into cash. Hard assets can be a house, land, valuables, and examples of monetary assets are bank, retirement and savings accounts. Your liabilities can be a mortgage and car loan (secured loans), student loan, credit card accounts and personal loans (unsecured loans). If some of your accounts are in both of your names – joint accounts – like a credit card or mortgage, realize you will be on the hook for the debt if your partner doesn’t pay, even if it’s stated in the divorce agreement that one person is responsible.To change the account holder you or the lawyer have to legally split the accounts and open new individual accounts prior to the finalization of the divorce.

3. Think about your future in financial terms. Your lawyer should look out for your best interest and help you craft a reasonable settlement agreement but it’s always a good idea for you to understand and be in on the process. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and had a career before having children you may be entitled to rehabilitative alimony, meaning you can get extra money in the early years of the divorce to help you get the training to re-enter the workforce. Make sure you get a portion of each type of asset, including the retirement assets. Many women believe they should keep the house for the sake of the children but don’t factor in all of the financial costs in staying there like maintenance, taxes and insurance.

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I have over 20 years of experience in the financial industry and three years ago became an Accredited Financial Counselor for a nonprofit credit counseling agency. From speaking to thousands of women across the country who were in financial trouble …

Hollis Colquhoun’s author pageAuthor’s Blog