Why do People opt for Cohabitation versus Marriage in the Present Day

Over time, the benefits of marriage stand; some of the benefits of marriage include: economic integration between two people, companionship, intimacy, support, and children born in marriage appear to be more stable, and they grow holistically. Further, the children are less likely to be poor or experiencing persistent economic hardship; children are less vulnerable to serious emotional illness, suicide, and depression, and they are likely to have a positive attitude towards marriage.

Despite the benefits of marriages, many people in this generation prefer cohabitation as compared to marriage because of the following reasons: people consider the marriage process expensive and tedious, the fear for divorce and media propagation being hard, and the fear of the legal institution of marriage.

First, most people consider marriage a formal process that is expensive because of the requirements of marriage. Section 92(12) of the Constitutional Act, 1867 lays out the marriage requirements: license of bands, registered celebrant or judge/JP, Registration, and ceremony. At least two witnesses must attend the ceremony, and each party must have the capacity to marry. Capacity entails having a minimum age of 16 and the ability to give free and enlightened consent. Most people consider the marriage ceremony hectic and expensive and prefer to cohabitate. This is reflected in Hassan v. Hassan (2006), where the Judge held that for a marriage to be considered valid, it must comply with the lex loci celebrations of the domicile. Complying with the lex loci celebrations of the area the parties reside can prove hectic to some people.

Secondly, most people in the current age prefer to cohabitate because of fear of the institution of marriage. Marriage, as held in Hyde v. Hyde (1866) [LR] 1 P. & D. 130 "is the voluntary union of one person to the other to the exclusion of all others." Relying on this notion, people are generally afraid that you tie a knot to one person if you are supposed to stand by them unless there is a valid reason for divorce. Most people prefer to cohabitate because they can enter a relationship at any time, at any age, any gender, and exit the relationship at any time. Further, some people fear the institution of marriage because they have experienced divorce in the families or seen it among their friends; hence they are afraid to have a personal encounter.

Thirdly, the media has propagated statistics on marriage, showing that most marriages are likely to fail. Most media articles and surveys show that 1 out of 2 marriages is likely to fail. The surveys put out by the media change the perceptions of the general public by gearing them towards having a negative attitude towards marriage. As a result of the media surveys and findings, most people prefer to cohabitate instead of a marriage to avoid divorce.

Fourthly, most people prefer to cohabitate because when people cohabit, the higher-wage earning spouse does not have an obligation to provide financial support to the other spouse upon separation and divorce. In cohabitation, when parties separate, none of them has obligations to the other unless they have executed a contract to the contrary.

Lastly, people prefer to cohabitate than to enter into a marriage because of the rigorous divorce process. Divorce affects not only the spouses but also the children born out of the relationship. Divorce affects people emotionally, psychologically, economically and leads to a parental crisis in instances where there are children. Divorce involves a court process that may be expensive to the parties as it requires them to have counsel, pay legal fees and costs, etc. Because of the nature of the divorce process, people prefer to cohabitate to separate by free will rather than being exposed to a court process.

Furthermore, in the divorce process, parties may be forced to share custody of the children, and one may be forced to give up custody and have limited access to the child. In some instances, the courts may help the parents decide important matters such as custody of children. Hence, people prefer to cohabitate than to marry. In conclusion, most people in the present day choose cohabitation over marriage to avoid the rigorous formalities of marriage and divorce, so that they can have the freedom to be with anyone at any time.

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