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Keywords:

  • breakup;
  • cohabitation;
  • cohabitation dissolution;
  • chaos;
  • relationship-specific investments

Predictors of two types of cohabitation dissolution, dissolution with a continued romantic relationship and without (i.e., breakup), were examined using data from mothers cohabiting at the time of a nonmarital birth in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 1,624). Life tables indicated 64% of unions dissolved within 5 years; of these, 76% broke up. Black mothers had the highest rates of dissolution. Maximum likelihood discrete-time event history results revealed that younger mothers were more likely to experience cohabitation dissolution into a breakup. Fewer relationship-specific investments and more family chaos were also associated with greater risk of cohabitation dissolution into a breakup. Mothers' multipartnered fertility and fewer relationship-specific investments were associated with greater risk of cohabitation dissolution with a continued romantic relationship. Postdissolution, mothers who maintained a romantic relationship were more likely to reenter a union with their former partner whereas mothers whose union broke up most often remained so.