Marriage stats highlight the risk to cohab couples

22 Feb 2007

New figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed a decline in marriage in the UK but more and more live-together couples are at risk. Millions of live-together couples are under threat if the current law isn’t reformed, says leading family law group Resolution.

As the number of people getting married in the UK falls by 10%, the myth of common law marriage will potentially lead to confusion and misery for even more couples who choose not to tie the knot.

With six out of ten cohabiting couples mistakenly believing they already have protection as “common law husband and wife”, Resolution is renewing its call to the government to pass new laws.

David Allison who chairs Resolution’s cohabitation law reform task force says: “Our proposals would give couples who want it protection if their relationship breaks down. It would also allow couples to opt out if they want to. We want to make sure that each person can be financially independent as quickly as possible after a relationship ends, and we acknowledge that help is sometimes needed to enable one to re-adjust and get back on his or her feet.

“By focusing on ways to protect live-together couples we are not undermining marriage. The recent statistics show that marriage decline is a reality and efforts must be made to educate the people affected about the risks they face if their relationship ends.”

Resolution is campaigning for a fair division of a couple’s assets if they split. After a couple have lived together for two years, they would allow a court to look at all the financial circumstances and order a fair solution taking into account what each person has contributed to the relationship.

A Law Commission report on cohabitation law reform is expected later this year.

For further information please contact:
David Allison
Family Law in Partnership
Tel: 0207 420 5000