With a big increase both in the number of cohabiting couples, and those choosing to have children, clarifying their legal status has never been more important.

Significant changes for the decade 2001 to 2011 can be seen in census data compiled by Dr Esmée Hanna and Dr David Grainger of Leeds University. While the number of cohabiting couples saw a 34% increase from 2.1 million to 2.8 million, those with dependent children increased by 292,000. Married couples with dependent children however fell by 319,000.

Many co-habitees are under the mistaken impression they enjoy the same legal rights as married couples. This myth of the ‘common law wife’ runs deep, with a recent Good Housekeeping survey showing that some 50% of unmarried couples are not aware that unmarried women are inadequately protected if a relationship ends or a partner dies.

Some of the best ways to avoid problems later include agreeing:

  • An up-to-date Will that makes each partner’s intentions clear
  • A Deed of Trust that confirms each partner’s interest in any property
  • A co-habitation agreement that specifies responsibility for household expenses, but does not apply to property ownership.

If you feel that you are Cohabiting and want some legal protection contact Stephen Rimmer LLP Solicitors enquiries@stephenrimmer.com or 01323 644 222