Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK, with more than 6 million people living in these relationships, representing 17% of all families.
Despite the myth of ‘common law marriage’, under current law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down.
Many of those living together unmarried are unaware of their lack of rights, and if the relationship breaks down, surprised they are not legally protected. This can have a huge impact on women and children, particularly in cases where a mother has given up or reduced her work to raise a family. In 2007 the Law Commission recommended affording rights to cohabiting couples yet the situation remains unchanged ten years later.
As numbers of cohabiting couples are projected to continue their rise, it’s imperative that we raise awareness of this issue and encourage government to bring the law in line with the modern family. This week is Cohabitation Awareness Week organised by Resolution First for Family Law.
If you are in a cohabiting relationship and would like to know whether or not there is anything you can do now to protect your position or if you are considering moving in with your partner and would like to discuss how to protect your position should that relationship breakdown please contact Helen Noble, Associate in Rix & Kay’s Family Team.