Experts Call For Update To Law As Statistics Show Massive Rise In Cohabitation

Family And Divorce Lawyers Say Current Laws Don’t Offer Protection To Those Living Together


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Specialist family lawyers say the latest figures which show that cohabiting couple families are the fastest growing family type in the UK highlight the need for urgent law reforms in the way the law treats couples who live together outside marriage.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that Cohabiting couple families grew by 30% between 2004 and 2014 and are the fastest growing type of family in the UK.

There are now almost 3 million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 84,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2014. This accounts for 16.4% of all families in the UK.
Expert family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, which has a network of offices across the country, say that the cohabitation laws are “out of touch” and “need bringing into line with the 21st century way of living”. 
Alison Hawes, a partner in the family and divorce law team at Irwin Mitchell said:

Expert Opinion
The idea of a common law partner whereby people simply living together have the same rights as married couples is currently a myth and it is about time the out of touch cohabitation laws were brought up to date.

“Many people in this situation don’t know that they are not well protected in the event of a separation and we have seen examples of people literally being left out in the cold because they have been evicted from a house they have shared with their partner for years.

“The latest statistics are further evidence of how the world is changing and people are now living their lives differently to 10, 20 years ago. The cohabitation rights bill has been in the early stages of passing through parliament for some time now but we believe it needs to become more of a priority following May’s general election.

"Legislation in this area has not moved with the times and this means couples who live together have very few rights in law in the event of relationship breakdown. The only way for couples to protect themselves and their assets in the event of a split is to prepare a cohabitation agreement or property ownership document with advice from legal specialists from the outset.

“It is very similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, and enables both parties to ensure they state clearly how their assets should be divided in the event that their relationship does sadly come to an end."
Alison Hawes, Partner

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