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  • Writer's picturePenn Chambers

Family Law | Rights of Cohabitees

In 2007, the Law Commission proposed in its Report introducing to improve legal protections for unmarried, cohabiting couples should there be a relationship breakdown or a passing of a partner. However, recently, the Government has rejected its suggestion for a reform of cohabitation law. Cohabiting families are the fastest growing family type in England and Wales. As of last year, there were 3.6 million cohabiting couples and this number has in fact doubled since 1996. Under the current law, there is no legal definition for a cohabitee and cohabiting couples do not automatically share the same rights as a married couple/ civil partners under the common law.

People often say "I have lived with my partner for many years and I see us as if we were married", yet the current legal protections available to cohabitants are actually far from sufficient.

Many cohabitees have the misperception that they are in a ‘common law marriage’, but this is incorrect. For instance, if your partner owns your home in his/her sole name, you have no right to ownership in the event of a separation or the other passing away. You will not have any automatic entitlement to that estate.

Therefore, without any protections in place, it has put many families in a miserable and difficult financial situation.

Can you mitigate this? A cohabitation agreement could be drawn up to ensure that your property and finances are protected. It can also include arrangements for your children. This agreement is an enforceable legal document if it is executed properly.

If you wish to discuss this further to protect yourself and your loved ones, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Phoebe Chau

0207 183 6624

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.


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