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What Will The General Election Mean For Cohabiting Couples?

Despite the increasing number of couples living together without getting married, the law does not offer the same protections to them if they separate. There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’, which many cohabiting couples only discover when their relationship breaks down and they are left in a much more precarious position than their married counterparts. 

The law hasn’t kept apace with changes in society, and organisations and lawyers continue to call for law reform in this area. Hopes were raised law year when Emily Thornberry MP announced that Labour intended to reform the law for cohabiting couples, and we therefore read their recently published manifesto with interest. Labour has confirmed that, if elected, they ‘will strengthen the rights and protections available to women in co-habiting couples.’

The Liberal Democrats have also committed to law reform, and have said their plan includes ‘Extending limited legal rights to cohabiting couples, to give them greater protection in the event of separation or bereavement.’ 

These are promising signs, and we are hopeful that reform may be finally on the horizon, although of course we must await the outcome of the election, and then whether the parties stick with their manifesto pledges. 

In the meantime, here are some suggestions for ways in which you can protect yourself if you are living with your partner, or are in the process of separating.

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