Cohabitation is a less stable form of relationship today than it was 15 years ago and particularly for couples with children, says relationships charity The Jubilee Centre.

A fresh analysis of national data by the centre shows that cohabitations are rarely a long term lifestyle choice and the vast majority last only a short time before being converted into marriage or dissolving.

Less than a quarter of first cohabitations last five years and just one in nineteen of all cohabiting couples (5.3 per cent) has been together for ten years or more.

The average unmarried couple now lives together for three years and almost a half stop cohabiting before two years. Around three in five couples who stop cohabiting decide to get married, while less than two in five separate, making marriage still the preferred relationship choice for couples.

Yet the analysis also showed that cohabitation does not serve as a ‘trial marriage’ but instead increases the odds of divorce. Never-married couples who cohabit before getting married are 60 per cent more likely to divorce than those who have not first lived together.

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