Mackrell Turner Garrett Shares its views on the latest cohabitation figures

Posted on Friday August 9, 2019

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released new figures which show that cohabitation is the fastest-growing form of family type in the UK.

According to the data the number of cohabiting couple families is growing faster than married couple families and has risen by 25.8 per cent over the last decade.

Reflecting on the figures, Alison Green, Head of the Family Law Team at Mackrell Turner Garrett said:“It is unsurprising that these figures have risen because for most couples getting married is a very expensive process. Many couples want to use their money to get themselves on to the property ladder. Also, different types of family unit are very widely recognised worldwide now and so it seems that marriage does not hold the same importance in some people’s minds as it once did.

“Under English law, as a cohabitee, you have no rights on the breakdown of the relationship against your partner for financial support, but also maybe more importantly cohabitees do not benefit from tax concessions that couples in a marriage or civil partnership do; nor do they benefit from the concessions under the inheritance tax laws which married and civil partners have.

“There is also the issue of Wills and intestacy laws, which may mean that an unmarried partner does not receive any assets from the estate in the event of their partner dying without a Will.

“Some say that as many more people are choosing to cohabit rather than marry, the law should be changed to protect cohabitees, but this remains a politically charged issue.

“There will however be a new law introduced in the not too distant future which will extend the civil partnership legislation to opposite-sex couples. This will mean that if a cohabiting couple enters into a civil partnership, not only will they have tax and inheritance rights during the lifetime of the relationship, but they will be able to make claims for financial support if the relationship breaks down.

“Unfortunately, the myth of common law marriage continues to be spread when no such concept exists. It is worrying to think that so many people are unaware that they have no rights as a cohabitee.”

If you would like to know more about how Mackrell Turner Garrett can help with cohabitation, please contact us.