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After divorce: cohabitation on the increase

What happens after divorce? Of course this is an incredibly open-ended question and the answer will vary for each person who has been through one. Some people remarry - sometimes more than once. Others choose to remain single or chose to cohabitate.

In 2013, for people in Illinois and across the nation, there are certainly plenty of options.

One thing statistics suggest, however, is that fewer people are getting married again after getting divorced.

Indeed, the remarriage rate after death or divorce has dropped by 40 percent in the last 20 years.

Susan Brown, a sociologist at the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, has delved deeply into the data. She notes that the trend toward fewer remarriages holds true across all age groups.

In 1990, 50 out of every 1,000 divorced or widowed people tied the marriage knot again. By 2011, that rate had declined to 29 out of 1,000.

Why has the rate dropped so much? There is certainly no shortage of causal factors. But if the reasons had to be summed up in one word, it would probably be: cohabitation.

The cultural disfavor that once accompanied living with a partner outside of marriage has largely gone away. It was once considered "living in sin." But cohabitation is now a common practice, with about 7.8 million couples across the country doing it.

And those 7.8 million couples certainly include many divorced people. Indeed, census figures show that 37 percent of people who are cohabitating were at one time married.

But marriage has not gone completely out of style, either. In 2010, the numbers say, remarriages made up nearly 33 percent of all marriages. In other words, cohabitation has increased, but trips to the altar (or a judge's chambers) retain considerable appeal for many -- though not as many as before.

Source: USA Today, "Remarriage rate declning as more opt for cohabitation," Sharon Jayson, September 12, 2013

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