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Co-habitation v Marriage

Unmarried couples do not automatically have the same rights as married couples after having children or living together for a set period of time.
There is no such thing as a common law marriage and often partners do not realise until it is too late that they have virtually no legal protection regarding property not registered jointly.
A recent poll has revealed that two thirds of co-habiting couples are unaware that there is no such thing as a “common law marriage” in England and Wales.
Resolution commissioned the poll. Resolution represents family lawyers and campaign for a change to the current law to give greater legal protection for unmarried couples on separation.
Co-habitating couples are the fastest growing family type in the UK. There were 1.5 million couples in 1996 and 3.3 million in 2017.  Current law would appear to be out of step with society.
At present therefore it is advisable to protect yourself before you start living with someone.  This is possible in a number of different ways including:

  1. Drawing up a Co-habitation Agreement which could set out both partners intentions around property if they were to separate
  2. Obtaining a Declaration of Trust if buying a property jointly in unequal shares
  3. Making a Will and taking our life insurance to protect the surviving partner in the event of the other’s death.

If you require advice on any of the above please contact our Family Law Team on 0800 088 6004