Cohabitation, which is common across Oklahoma and the United States, is generally considered to be a positive living arrangement by couples who are not ready to marry. However, a study produced in the Journal of Family and Marriage suggests that cohabitation may lead to higher divorce rates. The study looked at data gathered from women up to the age of 44 and analyzed divorce rates from 1970 to 2015 for first-time marriages.

Using statistics taken from the National Surveys of Family Growth, the study concluded that marriages after cohabitation had average or above-average rates of survival within the first year, but for each subsequent year of marriage after cohabitation, divorce was more likely to occur. Researchers reasoned that this was due to an increase in difficulty when navigating day-to-day problems faced by most marriages once a legal commitment had been made.

In contrast, the study also found that married couples who did not cohabitate had a stronger likelihood of remaining married over time even though they faced a more intense and shorter period of initial difficulty in navigating marriage-related problems. Researchers believe this is because non-cohabitating couples are forced to resolve differences as they learn rather than letting concerns build up and overtake the marriage in time. A definitive cause was not, however, found by the study regarding whether or not changing attitudes toward cohabitation and divorce over the study period played a part in the findings.

Divorce is often a complicated process that may involve the division of real property, financial assets and child custody. As a result, many divorcing spouses seek legal counsel for representation and recourse when an amicable settlement cannot be reached. A divorce attorney may provide advice, guidance and litigation services when necessary.