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Trend sees more older Americans living as unmarried couples

Many Michigan residents may have noticed a new cohabitation trend. It seems as though living together without intention of marriage is not just for younger folks. So-called unmarried baby boomer couples--couples with at least one partner over the age of 50--are on the rise. Living as unmarried couples is logical for older couples who have "been there, done that" in terms of the stresses of marriage and raising children.

Second marriages can be more complicated. If both partners have been married and divorced before, they typically bring along baggage of ex-spouses and children into another marriage. Many older Americans simply do not want to deal with the stress of all that.

With living together becoming more socially acceptable than in past years, more and more older men and women are feeling more free to live their lives as they please, and marriage does not always fit into that equation. With grown children, inheritances and retirement accounts, many find it easier to forego marriage.

However, that is not to say that living together is easy. Agreements still need to be made about daily household tasks. Who does the laundry and dishes? Who pays the bills?

There are also legal issues to consider. What happens when one partner dies? Can the other stay in the house? Will a partner be allowed to make health care and financial decisions when the other is incapacitated? If the couple splits, property division issues could also surface. This is why it is important for all serious couples--even unmarried ones--to figure out a long-term plan they can agree to.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Older couples skipping 'I do' and just living together," Leslie Mann, Feb. 13, 2013

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