Cohabiting couples second largest family group in the UK

The latest statistical bulletin from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlights the rise in cohabitation. Cohabiting couples now form the second largest family type and the fastest growing, having more than doubled from 1.5 million families in 1996 to 3.3 million families in 2017. In 2017 there were more 19 million families in the UK, a 15 per cent increase from 16.6 million in 1996. With 12.9 million families, the married or civil partnership couple remains the most common in 2017.

In 2017, there were 3.9 million people living alone aged 16 to 64 years; a larger proportion were male (58.5%); similarly there were 3.8 million people living alone aged 65 and over but a larger proportion (66.5%) were female. Young males were more likely to be living with their parents than young females; around 32% of males aged 20 to 34 years in 2017 compared with 20% of females aged 20 to 34 years in 2017.

Whilst there is this rise it is important for cohabiting couples to be aware of their rights, especially if the relationship breaks down. There is no such thing as a “common law marriage” and the claims which separating unmarried parties can bring against one another is limited.

At Barker Gotelee our family team can give detailed advice in the strictest confidence. To make an appointment please call 01473 611211 and speak to one of our family team assistants.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

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