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Cohabiting couples - what rights do you have?

View profile for Melanie Loxley
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The fastest growing family type in the 20 years leading up to 2016 were cohabiting couple families, which more than doubled from 1.5 million to 1996, to 3.3 million in 2016.  Cohabiting couple families now account for 17% of families in the UK.  This is according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) publication in November 2016.

Whilst The Cohabitation Rights Bill is in the early stages of plodding through Parliament, the law as it currently stands for cohabiting couples is far removed from the law relating to married families.

On separation the claims cohabitants have against one another are largely limited to property they own or live in together.  Whilst one cohabitant may mount a claim against a property owned in the other’s sole name, the court’s powers to determine that claim are governed by property law principles and the court does not enjoy the same discretionary powers it does when dealing with financial claims on marital breakdown.

Unlike divorcing couples, cohabiting couples have no claims against one another for pensions nor for maintenance in their own right.  Unless they have children together, the couple cannot bring claims against one another for lump sums either.

Upon death, cohabiting couples have no automatic right to a share of the estate of their deceased partner, unless provision has been made for them by will.

If you are in a cohabiting relationship, it is important you consider your current rights and what you would want to happen if your relationship should break down or if you or your partner should die.  Our specialist family law team can advise you on your rights and can draw up the appropriate documents needed to protect yourself and your family both now and in the future.

We also have the expertise to advise, assist and represent you if your cohabiting relationship has broken down.