By Hilary White

NEW YORK, July 21, 2006 ( – A study published by the journal, Demography, has shown that cohabitation is not the road to happy marriage, or even to a happy relationship, but rather ends in separation 90 percent of the time.

The study’s lead researcher, Daniel Lichter a professor of policy analysis at Cornell University said, “The common view of cohabitation as a steppingstone to marriage needs to be seriously questioned.”

“Instead, serial cohabitation may be an emerging norm as cohabiting unions form and break up. If marriage promotion programs hope to target poor cohabiting women, our results seemingly suggest that the likelihood of success is not assured.”

The study showed that one-half of all cohabiting unions end within a year and 90 percent within five years. The study showed that the common failure of cohabitation affects poor women more severely since they tend to rely financially on their live-in partners.

In the meantime a court in North Carolina has overturned as unconstitutional a 201 year-old law that prohibited couples living together before they were married. The suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union who sued the state on behalf of Deborah Hobbs, 41, a former sheriff’s dispatcher who lost job because she wouldn’t marry her live-in boyfriend.

The court cited a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Texas sodomy law in ruling that the law protecting the state’s interest in lawful marriage violated Hobbs’ right to liberty.

The law stated, in part: “If any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanour.”