Cohabitation gives no legal status to a couple and yet the myth of the common law marriage persists. A 2013 survey by UK charity OnePlusOne found that 40% of those asked believed that living together could confer the same legal rights as marriage.
Whereas marriage or civil partnership confer certain legal rights and responsibilities on a couple, the same does not apply to cohabitants no matter how long the cohabitation and how committed the relationship.
In 2013, the Office of National Statistics estimated that there were just under 3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK (with this figure including both opposite and same sex partners) and this is a number that is only likely to increase in the future.
Where a co-habiting couple separate, the court has extremely limited powers to intervene and the wide discretion and overriding objective of fairness found in matrimonial/civil partnership proceedings does not apply.
It is always prudent for any cohabitees ( or potential cohabitees) to obtain legal advice about their options at the start as this will reduce the risk of litigation in the event that the relationship comes to an end in the future.
For expert help call Morrisons Solicitors on 01737 854 500 or email [email protected].