Living Arrangements after Marital and Cohabitation Dissolution

Zuzana Zilincikova, Masaryk University

One of the most important changes in the partnership behavior in recent decades is the rapid increase of cohabiting couples and the number of children being born to cohabitation. This trend has an important impact on the lives of children born to cohabitation since they face a higher risk of parental break-up than children born to a marriage. The current paper aims to provide a cross-national overview of the living arrangements of children following break-up of non-marital unions and to investigate whether the post-dissolution living arrangements differ between formerly cohabiting and married families. Using the first wave of Generations and Gender Survey for 10 European countries, the results show that 16 percent of former cohabiters opted for the shared physical custody of their children, and another 6 percent opted for the sole-father custody. The data also document an increase in shared physical custody in more recent cohorts and large differences in the commonness of the types of the custody arrangements across the countries. Interestingly, the preliminary results show that former cohabiters are not more or less prone to establish shared physical custody of their children than formerly married couples; however, formerly cohabiting fathers are somehow less prone to have sole custody of their children. The lower odds of sole-father custody among former cohabiters are caused by the selection of individuals into cohabiting unions (i.e. different socio-demographic characteristics of cohabiting parents). Overall, the results suggest that the lack of formalisation of the union through marriage does not play a crucial role in the post-dissolution living arrangements.

Presented in Session 1235: Posters