The Risks of Cohabitation
Recent data from the National Office of Statistics has shown the rising popularity in cohabitation; since 1996 the number of unwed couples raising children together has risen to 1.3 million – an increase of 132%. According to the Marriage Foundation, it is expected that more than half of the 20-year-olds in the UK will never marry. And it is not only in the UK, the trend is also rising similarly across Europe.
This evidence shows us that perhaps we are living in a society where couples are contented in their relationships and feel secure enough not to need to formalise their relationships, religiously or legally. Albeit admirable in many people’s opinion, cohabitees have virtually no financial rights if the relationship breaks down.
“Common-law marriage” is an absolute myth and there is still a huge misconception that living long-term with your partner offers similar rights to marriage. In the eyes of the law, cohabitees are practically treated like strangers and nothing is enforceable as a result of their relationship.
Therefore, individuals making financial sacrifices, presuming they would be taken care of in the eventuality of a break up, could be in for a nasty shock. What you accumulate during your married life e.g. properties, savings etc. is seen as marital property and would generally be split 50%/50% if you divorce. This does not apply for those couples who remain unwed.
Although it may be considered somewhat unromantic, it is advisable that cohabitees gather as much information about their rights in the event of a separation as possible and use this knowledge to draw together plans that would soften the financial impact.
There are many ways to safeguard your future if you don’t want to marry and want to continue cohabiting with your partner. Cohabitation agreements can be drawn up, outlining both of your rights, as well as arranging property ownership to keep both parties safe should the worst occur.
At Vines Legal, we understand that every couple is different and not everyone wants to marry, but we also value the importance of safeguarding your future. If you would like to discuss cohabitation agreements or are having issues with an ex-partner and would like to discuss your rights, call us on 01246 555 610 for a free initial consultation.
By Claire Clark on 26 Nov 2015, 09:16 AM