The latest figures show that the number of cohabiting couples has reached 2.3 million. It has been predicted by 2031 that number will rise to 3.8 million or ¼ of all couples.
Family Law in this country has not yet developed a sensible solution for couples separating from cohabitation if there are not married or in a Civil partnership. It is clear that many cohabitants, particularly women, suffer a severe disadvantage upon relationship breakdown.
59% of cohabiting couples believe that they have a "common law marriage" which confers the same rights as if they were married. People often do not marry because they believe that marriage is "just a piece of paper" but from a legal point of view this could not be further from the truth. The media often confuses matters by using terms such as "common law wife" or "common law husband" to refer to cohabiting individuals.
At Cartridges we specialise in advising cohabiting couples either to help them to regulate the terms of their cohabitation or property rights by a Cohabitation Agreement or Deed of Trust. We also offer expert advice on limited rights available on the breakdown of the relationship. The landmark decision of the Supreme Court in Jones -v- Kernott in 2011 makes it all the more important that cohabitants should take advice on their legal position when purchasing a home together. In addition to our Family Law Cohabitation Specialists, our Property Team and our Inheritance Team are fully experienced in offering the right advice.
There are therefore very complex areas of law involved. These effect couples of the same sex as well as couples of the opposite sex. Make sure you understand and secure your rights by instructing a recognised expert.