Religion and Cohabitation

Divorced women are more likely to cohabit if they are not affiliated with a religion (86 % within 10 years after divorce) than if they are (about 60 % for women with any religious affiliation; Bramlett & Mosher, 2001). Religious affiliation makes a difference, in that fundamentalist Protestant religious affiliation is associated with significantly lower levels of postdivorce cohabitation compared to women with no religious affiliations. However, the majority (62 %) of women who claimed that religion was “very important” to them are expected to cohabit within a decade of divorce (Bramlett & Mosher, 2001). We speculate that these women cohabit prior to remarriage, and are not cohabiting long-term as an alternative to remarriage—the majority of remarried couples live together (Xu et al., 2006), so even religious individuals engage in repartnering cohabitation, but probably as part of the remarriage courtship process.

Prior Marital Status and Cohabitation

Half of cohabitors have been married before (50.5 %; Kennedy & Fitch, 2012). Of these, in about half of the unions, both partners were previously married.

Parental Status and Cohabitation

About one-fourth of cohabiting couples (26 %) have stepchildren in the household, and similarly to remarried stepfamilies, there are about four times more stepfathers than stepmothers in these households (Kennedy & Fitch, 2012). Nearly two-thirds (64 %) of the children living with cohabiting parents live in stepfamilies (compared to 13 % of children living with married parents), and 22 % of these families have half-siblings and 8 % have stepsiblings. A majority (64.2 %) of the children in cohabiting households live below the poverty line.

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