Published: 13 November 2013
The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the percentage of unmarried couples living together has increased by 22% over the last 10 years, with three million cohabiting couples now living in the UK.
These statistics show a rapid increase in the number cohabiting couples in the past 2 years in particular, eclipsing a prediction in 2010 by the ONS that the number of unmarried couples living together would only reach 3.3 million by the year 2033.
Whilst some couples see cohabiting as a 'trial run' before tying the knot, many other unmarried couples choose to live together for more practical reasons such as raising their children together and reducing living costs.
A previous study, published in 2012 by Leeds University surveyed the public's attitude towards marriage and cohabitation and found that over 50% of people think that it is more important to raise a child in a stable and committed relationship, then it is for the parents to get married before having children.
Although the number of married couples is still far higher than cohabiting couples, 38% of all both married and cohabiting couples have children.
The public attitude towards marriage has been changing for many years yet there is still a common misconception that cohabiting couples have the same legal rights as married couples. Cohabiting couples face the same issues as married couples when it comes to common family problems such as child residency, shared assets and finances, but they don't have the same legal protection as their married counter parts - something which has been much cause for debate among political parties.
Cohabiting individuals should consider seeing a family solicitor to discuss the merits of cohabitation agreements and the role they can play in offering protection should the relationship break down and disputes arise.
K J Smith Solicitors have an experienced team trained to deal with cohabitation agreements and disputes and we have helped many families to safe guard their finances and assets should their relationship breakdown in the future. For more information on how we can help, or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation, please call us today on 01491 630000 (Henley-on-Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), or 020 7070 0330 (Central London)