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New data highlights the need for a law reform on cohabitation as it becomes the UK fastest growing family type

Published: 28th July 2016

The Office for National Statistics has recently released new data highlighting that more and more couples are cohabitating or choosing to live together before deciding to get married.

The percentage of couples marrying has steadily declined since 2002, leading to a new age of couples who are choosing to cohabit rather than get married. This has become a growing concern for Family Lawyers who understand the damage that cohabiting couples can endure as there is very little protection should they choose to separate.

Due to cohabitation becoming more common among people who have never been married or those who are in a civil partnership, statistics show that those aged 16 or over and were single, had increased from 29.6% in 2002 to 34.5% in 2015. This is a trend that continues to increase and shows no sign of slowing down.

Cohabiting couples now represent almost 10% of the population and the data in the new report makes it clear that the law also needs to move forward with the times to enable those who have chosen to cohabit to have the security they need to protect themselves and their children. Under current laws, whether you’ve been together 6 months or 6 years, the person you live with can leave the relationship without having to take any responsibility whatsoever, leaving the other person and their children very vulnerable under current laws.

In Resolution’s Manifesto for Family Law, released last year, the national family law organisation pledged to keep fighting for rights for cohabiting couples, as research undertaken in 2013 showed that almost half of the British public – around 47% – believed that ‘common law marriages’ exist and that cohabiting couples have the same security and rights that married people have.

Hopefully this will be seen as a wake-up call as couples cohabitating together is a trend of the modern world which doesn’t seem to be reversing, and according to ‘Families and Households 2015’ those who choose to cohabit are a family type that has grown the fastest in the UK between 2004 to 2015 and accounts for 3.2million cohabiting couple families.

Due to this growth in cohabiting couples it is clear the law needs to change in order to respect this family category, in light of this new data we hope this becomes a high priority issue for the next Justice Secretary.

If you are currently unmarried and living with your partner and you are concerned about your legal rights then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team are experienced in drawing up cohabitation agreements which are designed to help protect you and your family, should the worst happen.

For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation, please contact us today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading Head Office), 0118 418 1200 (Reading Central), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke), 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield), 01235 375500 (Abingdon), 01344 513000 (Ascot), 01635 785 100 (Newbury), 01962 587900 (Winchester) or email info@kjsmith.co.uk.

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