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Trying again: reconciling after cohabitation and marital separation

Edith E. Gray, Australian National University
Ann Evans, Australian National University
Anna Reimondos, Australian National University

When a couple separates this is often thought of as the end of the line for that relationship. Following a separation each partner may remain single or they may repartner and form a new relationship. However, a third possibility for a couple that separates is that they reconcile and get back together. Very little is currently known about the prevalence of reconciliation and the characteristics of couples who chose to try again following a relationship dissolution. In this paper we use 19 waves of data (2001-2019) from a longitudinal survey (Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) to estimate the prevalence and correlates of reconciliation among cohabiting and married couples that separate in Australia. We find that a small but significant proportion of couples that separate for at least a year, then reconcile and move back in together as a household after a period of time. Characteristics of the couple before separation, including the type of relationship (married or cohabiting), whether they had children together, and the duration of the relationship at the point of dissolution is used in discrete-time event history models to understand what makes some couples try again while others go their separate ways.

Keywords: Family demography, Event history analysis, Longitudinal studies

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 182. Union Dissolution Around the World: Predictors and Outcomes