Saturday 18 August has been reported as the most popular day in 2018 to tie the knot in the UK. However, since the early 1970’s, the number of people actually getting married has steadily decreased, dropping a further 3.4 per cent last year. There have been many theories about why marriage rates are falling, but the fact remains that fewer people are formalising their relationship.
In 2016 there were 3.3 million cohabiting couples or around 6.6 million cohabiting adults. This is officially the fastest growing family type, more than doubling from 1.5 million couples just 20 years ago. Yet, a 2017 ComRes Survey showed that only one couple in three knew there was no such thing as a common law marriage.
The issue is widespread, with nearly 98 per cent of professionals from family justice group Resolution reporting they were unable to help a cohabiting couple. A further 90 per cent said the couples are often surprised to find out about their lack of rights.
To help raise awareness of this issue Helen Morgan, family law solicitor at Mooney Everett Solicitors in Ormskirk and Liverpool, is campaigning to raise awareness of the problem and encourage cohabiting couples to take steps to protect themselves and their families.
Helen explains, ‘If an unmarried couple breaks up, they would not necessarily be entitled to share in (what they thought were their) joint assets. For example, one person may not automatically have a share in a house, even if they have made significant financial contributions to it, if they are not named as an owner on the deed. This is the same regardless of how long they have been together or whether they have children.’
‘The government has the opportunity to update legislation, to bring our laws in line with modern family types. Caroline Lucas raised an early day motion in November, which has already been supported by 23 cross-party MPs.’
‘In the absence of action from government, couples need to know that they are not given rights through common law marriage, so they can take appropriate actions to protect themselves. For example, signing a cohabitation agreement is an easy and cost-effective way to get financial peace of mind without getting married or forming a civil partnership.’
Mooney Everett have offices in Ormskirk, Lancashire and Liverpool City Centre by appointment only.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal advice. The law may have changed since this article was published and readers should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.