Calls to change law on cohabiting couples

Recently released data from the Office of National Statistics has highlighted that in the UK there are now more children being born to cohabiting couples (parents who are not married) than those who are.

The law surrounding the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship and how assets are dealt with does not give the same protection to people compared to those who are married or in a civil partnership. For example, there is no legal provision for a cohabitee to maintain their ex-partner post separation by providing income maintenance. Cohabitees also have no right to pension sharing on separation unlike those who are divorcing.

Resolution, the family justice campaign body, has backed calls from a cross-party committee of MPs to bring changes to the law as soon as possible in order to give better protection to cohabiting couples and their children if the relationship breaks down.

Graeme Fraser, Chair of Resolution’s Cohabitation Committee, said:  “The lack of rights for cohabiting couples has seen millions of people – often women – at significant financial risk if their relationship ends or their partner passes away. Now is the time for ministers to finally grasp the nettle and reform laws to ensure cohabiting families have better legal protection.  Cohabiting families are the fastest growing family type in England and Wales and yet lack even the most basic legal protections. Ministers have a moral obligation to act now to protect them – otherwise, left unreformed, the current law will consign even more families to misery and dire financial hardship.”

If you are in a cohabiting relationship and are considering separation or if you intend to cohabit in the future, find our your rights and responsibilities by talking to our family team on 01473 611 211.

Tina Kingsbury is a solicitor in the family team at Barker Gotelee, solicitors in Suffolk.

Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.