Cohabitation is gaining popularity across the life course

According to the latest census data – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016 – couples who lived together prior to marriage accounted for 80.8% of all marriages registered in 2016, an increase from the 76.1% recorded in 1996. In 1975, just 16% of married couples had lived together first, and by 1981 cohabitation had doubled with 31% of married couples recording their pre-marriage cohabitation.

Whilst cohabitation has become popular, these relationships tend to be of short duration and this changing landscape raises complex and competing factors for cohabiting parents.

According to the Australian Family Formation Project, 25% of de facto relationships lasted 12 months, around half ended after two years, and three quarters ended by four years. Many also end in marriage.

According to recent research by Smyth, Hunter, Macvean, Walter & Higgins (2017), the research reveals:

  • For Children, a significant proportion (34%) are born out of wedlock
  • 1/5 of all children have a parent living elsewhere.

Such growth suggests that cohabitation is becoming an increasingly common experience among people today.


  • National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University
  • Smyth, B., & Higgins, D. (2017, 23 Nov). Education for Family Life in Australia: A recent snapshot. Presentation at Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia Conference 2017. Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre: 22-23 November

Read more:

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith or @

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s