Co-habiting Breakup vs. Divorce

I sense a reluctance on behalf of many people to get married because they fear divorce.  Having watched various divorces unfold over the years, I can understand why people who have lived through a divorce – whether their own or their parents’ – might think that way. However, I believe they think that to avoid the pain of divorce they will just co-habit, and if the relationship doesn’t work out they can just go on their way with a lot less pain.

When I was leading a Divorce Care group once there was a lady who had been co-habiting long term with a man and owned a house together with him. If she had not said that this was a co-habiting breakup rather than a divorce I would have never known it, because the emotions she was sharing and the struggles she was having were almost identical to those  people who were going through a actual divorce.

Once you own property with someone your legal complications grow if you want to get out of the relationship. It can be about as messy as a divorce. If you have a child with someone and the relationship breaks up, you can have many of the same legal issues you would have if you had been married and gotten divorced. And the emotional wreckage can be just as bad as during a divorce.

My hunch (I am not a lawyer) is that actually you have less defined rights and more headaches breaking up if you are co-habiting and have children and property together, than if you were married and went through a divorce.

What have your observations or experiences been with these issues?

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