The Office for National Statistics states that in March 2020 there were 3.5 million unmarried couples living together in the UK. This figure is likely to have increased as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown, since the restrictions have encouraged many couples to move in together so that they can continue to see each other.
Many cohabiting couples are unaware of the limited protection afforded by the law if their relationship breaks down. It is a misconception that after living together for a period of time they would be considered a ‘common-law’ husband or wife.
Although this phrase is frequently used, the relationship between unmarried couples who live together is not legally recognised. Cohabitees do not have the same rights as married couples or civil partners. They have no share in their property unless it is jointly owned, maintenance is not available, and pension rights do not have to be shared.
It is essential that cohabiting couples come to an agreement about property ownership and items such as rent or mortgage payments, domestic bills, and how joint accounts or household items will be divided should the relationship breakdown. Entering into a declaration of trust will also enable a cohabitee to inherit on their partner’s death.
Bretherton Law’s Family and Child Law Solicitors have been helping people with changes in their circumstances for over 50 years. We are members of Resolution and Accredited in Family and Child Law by the Law Society. For honest, sympathetic advice call Atifha Aftab on 01727 869293, or use the contact form below.