Birmingham Divorce Attorneys: Long Engagements More the Norm

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | May 09, 2012 | 0 Comments

When it comes to a Birmingham divorce, couples aren't foolish. They know when they tie the knot, there is sadly a 50-50 chance the union will end in divorce court.

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What Birmingham divorce attorneys have seen is that this knowledge has given rise to an increasingly common trend: the long engagement.

CNN recently chronicled this phenomenon, indicating that the trends have shifted tremendously over the last 40 years. Where it used to be the man would pop the question in the fall and the lovebirds would be wedded by spring, now we rarely bat an eye if a couple's engagement period extends past the three, four or even five-year mark.

Helen Fisher, a Rutgers University biological anthropologist, said that whereas couples used to see engagement merely as a brief layover on the flight to married-town, it's now often considered it's own important time period in and of itself. In a sense, it signifies a time in a relationship that is much more serious and committed – but not quite to the level of marriage. For this newest generation, many of whom grew up in broken homes, it's a way to avoid reliving the mistakes of the past.

According to the WeddingChannel.com and TheKnot, the average American engagement lasts about 14 months. What's more, 7 percent of couples said their engagement had stretched past the two-year mark.  And some even see engagement as a permanent state.

The U.S. Census in 2010 figured that unmarried partners accounted for more than 7.5 million households – an increase of more than 40 percent just in the last decade.

For some couples, however, the issue is simply a matter of saving up for a dream wedding. These days, many more couples are paying for their own ceremonies. Other times, the delay can be attributed to recent big life events, like a move to a new city or starting a new job.

But just because you aren't married doesn't mean that you won't need the services of a Birmingham divorce attorney if you split. Alabama is one of the few states that recognizes common-law marriages. These unions can be every bit as tangled and messy when they end.

Contrary to popular opinion, a common-law marriage doesn't mean you've just lived together for a while. It means that even if you never actually got a marriage certificate or had a wedding, you can be considered "legally" married if you have presented yourself to the community as a married couple. This means that you maybe call one another husband and wife or you use the same last name or you maybe file your tax returns jointly or own a home together.

If you are unsure whether your nearing-the-end relationship would qualify as a common-law marriage, contact a Birmingham divorce attorney for more information.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Standing engagement – are committed couples waiting longer to tie the knot? By Stephanie Goldberg, CNN

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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