Family Law Blog

Many Older Couples Choose Not to Marry, Cohabit Instead

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Couples above the age of 50 constitute an unlikely demographic in the United States-they form a growing proportion of people who don’t marry, and live together instead.

According to Census Bureau data, many baby boomers now avoid marriage for a variety of reasons. For one thing, many baby boomers have already experienced one divorce, and would rather not go through one again. Additionally, there are other more practical reasons why baby boomers may not choose to get married. Money is at the crux of many of these decisions. For instance, if you are divorced, and choose to remarry, you lose the alimony payments that you received from your earlier divorce. You also stand to lose pension payments and Social Security benefits from your former spouse. Widows may lose survivor’s pension benefits.

There are still more practical reasons why baby boomers choose not to get married a second time. A second marriage makes inheritance and estate division more complicated. Baby boomers may want to protect their assets, so that these go to their own children.

Getting married again does seem like a crazy idea even for those in the higher income group. In these cases, another marriage could simply mean being placed in a higher tax bracket, which becomes more expensive. No wonder many older couples are perfectly content to live together, than get married again.

However, cohabitation isn't without its challenges. Even seniors, who live together in a cohabitation arrangement without marriage, must understand that there are financial risks involved. To avoid these, sign a cohabitation agreement with your partner. It clearly outlines your rights and obligations towards your partner, as well as limitations on these. The agreement should make clear who pays the household expenses in your joint living arrangements, and all your assets including the home must be properly titled.