Resolution calls for safety net for cohabiting couples

The Office for National Statistics figures published today call for a change in the law in relation to cohabiting couples according to the family law group Resolution.  

Figures show that there are now 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK, with the number more than doubling over the last twenty years. A cohabiting couple usually relates to an unmarried couple living together as partners without entering into a marriage or civil partnership. 

In 2016, married or civil partner couple families remained the most common type of family in the UK although cohabiting couple families were the fastest growing family type between 1996 and 2016.

In the event that a cohabiting couple separates, they currently have little or no legal protection - despite the myth of 'common law' spouse which has no legal status. Resolution believes that the high growth in cohabiting couples is further evidence that the law needs to catch up with modern British society as until new legislation is introduced cohabiting couples are not well protected by the law.

Resolution Chair, Nigel Shepherd, said:

"These ONS figures are further proof that more and more couples are choosing to live together and bring up their children without marrying. Sadly, some of those relationships will come to an end at some point. This is a feature of our modern society that is here to stay and unfortunately current cohabitation law is failing to provide them with the rights some of them mistakenly think they have.

Rather than ignoring these 3.3million families, our lawmakers must respond andintroduce safety net legislation that will provide legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation."

Resolution's spokesman Graeme Fraser stated that under current cohabitation 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.

Last year Resolution released its Manifesto for Family Law calling for the introduction of some rights for cohabiting couples when they separate.

The full Office for National Statistics Report can be read here.

Posted on: 04/11/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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