And what better time to do so than now, during the Resolution Cohabitation Awareness Week.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 61 per cent of the population aged 16 or over in 2016 were living in a couple and were most likely to be married or in a civil partnership.
The do’s and don’t’s of marriage and divorce are commonplace and have been for a while, especially with high-profile and often celebrity packed cases being splashed all over the news and social media.
The public, therefore, has a pretty good idea about what goes on in a typical divorce, but are we as clued up on cohabiting couples, their ‘rights’ and how they sort out their finances upon the breaking down of a relationship?
When a couple decides to live together, they may be doing so in the belief that they, essentially, are in the same shoes as a married couple and the same rules will apply if they split up.
The misconception of a ‘common law’ marriage affording these same rights and obligations is still alive and we all need to do more to dispel that myth.
For practitioners, Resolution has done the hard work for you and provided a ‘toolkit’ to help you raise awareness of cohabitation to clients and society in general. You can find more information on that here.
For those of you who may be wondering about the status of your cohabiting relationship, please do contact us to chat through what ‘cohabitation’ means for you and your partner. Here are some key basis things to consider in any event:
- The law does not give cohabiting couples the protection that it does to married couples, so you need to think in advance about what you can, and should do to protect your position;
- Ensure that if you purchase a property together, both names go on the deeds at the Land Registry;
- Do you have a Will? Now would be a good time to get one done or reviewed and our Private Client team can help with that;
- Have you heard of a Cohabitation agreement? Entering into one with your partner establishes who owns what and to what extent and what happens to the assets if you split up.
Resolution has identified that “over the past 20 years, the fastest growing family type has been unmarried couples living together (cohabiting) – more than doubling from 1.5 million to 3.3 million families”.
It is high time, therefore, that couples who live together, and all professionals who handle the financial affairs of such couples, become more aware of how the relevant legal framework operates and what steps to take.