Rise in Co-habiting Couples Highlights Need for Co-habitation Agreements

15th July 2016

Family lawyers from Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth say figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showing a rise in the number of co-habiting couples highlights the need for couple who live together to set up a co-habiting agreement.

The ONS figures show that in 2002 people who were -cohabiting: never married or civil partnered represented 6.8% of the population. This had increased to 9.5% by 2015. Alison Hawes, family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, said: -There has been a significant rise in the number of co-habiting people over the past 15 years.  Many people wrongly believe that couples who live together have the same rights as married couples but this is a myth. There is no such thing in English law as a common law partner. -Unmarried couples who split up face issues that can be more complicated than a divorce when children and property are involved. People who live together do not have the same rights as people who are married or have a civil partnership, and many of our clients are astounded when they realise that they have few legal rights when a relationship breaks up. We have seen examples where people are literally left out in the cold because they have been evicted from a house that they shared with a partner for many years. -The law has not kept pace with people's changing lifestyles and needs reform. However, the only way for couples to protect themselves and their assets in the event of a split is to prepare a co-habitation agreement.  It is similar to a pre-nup agreement and enables both parties to state clearly how they want their assets divided in the event that their relationship ends.

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