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Recession has impacted Georgia couples

Readers in Georgia might be surprised to learn that the economic recession may have changed the way couples across the country approach both marriage and divorce, at least in two regards. Specifically, an increasing number of couples have been cohabitating before marriage and legally separating during marital troubles.

Indeed, many couples in a serious relationship find that living together provides an opportunity to preview many of the emotional and financial aspects of marriage, albeit in a safe setting. For some, living together after engagement might provide a more realistic setting for discussions involving asset protection concerns, perhaps accomplished through a prenuptial agreement.

A study also suggests that cohabitation might improve the chances of marital success. Based on the results of a marriage survey of 22,000 people, researchers observed that couples who lived together after getting engaged were as likely as non-cohabitating couples to have their marriages last 15 years. Notably, however, the survey also indicated that the likelihood of long-term success decreased in the case of couples who moved in together but weren't engaged.

For serious couples who would like such matters settled before their marriage, an experienced divorce attorney can provide guidance. Understanding how marriage laws define a marital estate, as well as the steps required to dissolve it, might bring peace of mind to couples on the eve of their marriage. Couples might also benefit from signing an antenuptial agreement. At a minimum, such an agreement can be a catalyst for frank discussions involving marital property and potential children, helping couples to avoid any surprise revelations from each other's viewpoints later down the road.

If marital troubles do arise, an experienced divorce attorney can assist couples with several dissolution options. For example, a legal separation typically requires a joint agreement on many of the same issues addressed in a divorce agreement, such as spousal support, parenting time, car sharing, and living arrangements. At the same time, it may provide a smoother transition for children and allow at least one of the parents to remain in the family home.

The option of legal separation also preserves an opportunity for couples to reconcile. According to one long-term study of couples who separated between 1979 and 2008, many couples proceeded to get a divorce within three years of their separation. However, at least 15 percent did not get a divorce, perhaps due to cost or child care considerations.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Study: The Most Fascinating Divorce Findings Of 2012," Brittany Wong, Dec. 31, 2012

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