According to the analysis by NatCen Social Research, the fastest growing type of family are cohabiting couples (both opposite and same-sex couples). These figures have more than doubled from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017, with 15% of dependent children living in cohabiting couple families.
In England and Wales, cohabitants do not have legal status which, in most circumstances, means no automatic rights, especially if the relationship ends. For example, in a cohabiting relationship, once one partner dies there is no right for the other partner to inherit part of the property, regardless of how long they have lived together and if they have had children together. Likewise, there is no exemption for tax purposes and no legal duty to financially support the partner.
From the latest British Social Attitudes survey, the data reveals that almost half (46%) of people that live in England and Wales are unaware that this is the case. They think that an unmarried cohabiting couple has a ‘common law marriage’ with equal legal rights as a married couple. This figure has remained relatively the same since 2005. The research also shows that people living in households with children are significantly more likely to think that common law marriage exists (55%) when compared to those in households with no children (41%) and single households (39%). In addition to this, cohabiting couples (48%) think quite similarly to married people (49%).
About Stuart Mosley
Stuart Mosley (CeFA, CeMap, CLTM) founded SJ Financial Solutions in June 2005 having spent 12 years with big corporates such as Halifax and Santander. He felt the personal touch and straight speaking was missing from financial and mortgage advice services and set up SJ Financial Solutions to change this.
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