Co-habiting at record high in UK, but offers public no legal protection warn regional experts

Co-habiting couples have hit a record high figure, but too many are unaware that they have no protection by the law if they split, warns a leading law firm. 

“The law has to change to reflect that cohabiting family couples continue to be the fastest growing family type in the country,” said Melanie Young, of law firm Waldrons.

Figures published this month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that cohabiting couple families in the UK have reached 3.2 million showing an increase of 29.7% in the past decade.

“It is possible to live with someone for a generation and even to have children and then leave without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down,” she said.

“This can cause utter devastation, particularly in cases where one of the couple has given up or reduced their work to raise a family, she warned

She added that Waldrons, whose headquarters are in Merry Hill, but have offices across the Midlands, supported debates in the legal world to change the law.

“There is no sign that cohabitation is a trend that will change and we see the damage caused in lives by the lack of legal protection when relationships break up” added Ms Young.

“Also, so many people believe they have ‘rights’ under the law and this plainly is not the case,” she added.

“Only by seeing a solicitor when the relationship is stable and getting sound advice about the best way to protect oneself, can one avoid the trap that many fall into,” she added.

“The fact is despite 3.2m couples living together the law doesn’t look like it is going to change imminently so the message has to get out there. We hope the public take note.”

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  • Tracy Nolan