Cohabitants Need To Understand Their Rights
New figures from the Office of National Statistics show that older people are fuelling the rise in divorces while those in their 30s are the most likely to live together outside marriage.
The divorce rate, including civil partnership dissolutions, has risen to just over 8% with
50 to 64 age group seeing a greater rise than the younger generation.
The new data also showed that last year around one in eight adults was living as part of a couple but was not married or civil partnered. This was most common among 30 to 34-year-olds while the statistics also showed that more people over 70 are also cohabiting rather than getting married.
Expert Opinion"The rise in older people divorcing has been a trend for the past few years and reflects that fact that divorce is no longer the stigma it once was. In general, attitudes have changed towards relationships and divorce. The older generation have realised that they can separate, often amicably, and still meet new people and lead a more enriched life rather than staying in relationships which may be making them unhappy. Social Media is also helping to open up new ways of finding others and developing new hobbies, interests and partnerships.
“People in their 30s are more likely to be cohabiting than others partly because of attitudes to marriage but also because finances have been squeezed for many during the past 6 years when traditionally they would have been paying for their weddings.
“With more older divorcees, it also comes as no surprise to see more older couple’s cohabiting too. They may be starting new relationships but don’t feel that marriage is right for them. With people living longer lives the current generation of people over 60 and 70 will inevitably be setting new trends in how they live.
“What cohabitants need to understand is that there is no such thing as a common law partner and that they may not have the rights they think they do in the event of any separation. ‘Living Together Agreements’ can help to set some boundaries in relationships. While it won’t help them organise the washing up rota or schedule date nights, it is legally binding if it deals with shared interests in property such as the home, furniture, cars and other valuable assets.
"Sorting out break-ups for unmarried couples can be costly because unlike divorce there is no straightforward legal framework to help decide how they may share assets after any potential split." Zoe Round - Partner
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Family and Divorce Law.