Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Grey cohabitation is an emerging family law issue

Residents of California may have heard about how "grey" divorce, that is, a divorce between a couple who is either at or relatively close to retirement, is becoming more common. Interestingly, the number of couples over the age of 50 who choose to live together without getting married has also been on the rise within the last decade. While the number of cohabitating couples in the country has risen overall, by about 30 percent, the number of adults over the age of 50 who are cohabitating has spiked by about 75 percent, from 2.3 million in 2007 to 4 million in 2016.

About 55 percent of those who are cohabitating over the age of 50 were in a previous marriage that ended in divorce, while another 6 percent of people who were cohabitating in this age group described themselves as separated from a spouse. Another 27 percent said that they had never been married.

As previous posts here have discussed, unmarried couples need to be aware of particular family law problems that are unique to those who have not formally tied the knot. For instance, while child custody and support matters may be handled very similarly to the case of a divorce, property issues can be completely different. In the case of a breakup between an older couple, this difference is important since both parties could easily have built up significant assets over the course of their lives.

Particularly when an unmarried couple has been together for a long time, a lot of questions about who should get what can arise, and there may be few easy answers. This is why someone who is over the age of 50 and has issues with respect to cohabitation may benefit from understanding the legal ramifications of their decisions.

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