As of this year, there are 19 million couples living in the UK with 3 million people living together as cohabiting couples.
Despite the dramatic increase in cohabiting couples, there is very little legal protection in the event that their relationship breaks down. A survey carried out by Resolution has found that an enormous two-thirds of cohabitees wrongly believe that ‘common-law marriage’ exists when the finances are split. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Despite the Law Commission’s recommended reforms, the law remains unchanged and as a result, Resolution’s Nigel Chairman said the current law is ‘behind the times.’ This can leave the cohabitees vulnerable and under-protected should their relationship breakdown as they are not legally entitled to share in any of what they had believed to be joint assets.
The law as it stands seems to promote lengthy and expensive disputes over children, property and savings for cohabiting couples, leaving many cohabitees devastated and out of pocket. Therefore, it stands to reason that cohabiting couples are made aware of the risks and the practical legal steps to ensure protection for the future.
Seeing a Solicitor and signing a cohabitation agreement can be such a simple way to ensure peace of mind. It will set out how the finances will be split in the event of the breakdown of the relationship and is often coupled with a declaration of trust setting out how the property is owned and shares reflecting capital contributions.
With the number of cohabiting couples likely to rise, it’s time the law caught up with the changing family structures.
That’s why we are supporting the 6,500 Resolution members to call on the Government in aiming for equal legal rights for cohabiting couples!