The number of couples cohabiting is continuing to rise and is firmly established into our modern society. The number of unmarried couples living together has more than doubled in the last 2 decades, from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017.
However two thirds of cohabiting couples believe they are in a common law marriage and that they are entitled to the same legal protection as married couples when the relationship breaks down or one person passes away.
The fundamental lack of awareness a cohabiting couple has of their legal rights and/ or lack of them is worrying, especially as cohabiting couples with children are the fastest growing family type in the UK.
For example many unmarried couple are not co-owners of the house they share, which leaves one partner without legal entitlement to what they may consider a joint asset.
As society is changing the laws in the UK also need to change, to protect both partners of a cohabiting couple and their children.
Until the law does change the best way for cohabiting couples to protect their interests is to ensure they are co-owners of the house they share and to use a cohabitation agreement. This agreement is a legal document that outlines what the couple wish to happen to their assets in the event of various different circumstances.
In a recent survey over three quarters of couples had never heard of a cohabitation agreement, yet it can be used to state how property, assets and income should be divided, as well as outlining the financial provision for children, should the relationship break down.
We all hope and believe our partnership will last for ever but a cohabitation agreement can prevent a lot of stress and complications if things do go wrong.
If you are considering a cohabitation agreement or simply want more information, get in touch with Peter Robinson & Co.