Unmarried couples – your rights

  • Posted on

Tim Adkin – Family Solicitor

A recent YouGov survey has revealed that the urban myth that unmarried couples – “common law partners” – have the same rights when they separate as married ones, was thought to be true by 47% of people questioned.

The apparent discrepancy in the law does not only apply to couples that are separating after living together, it also applies to intestacy law (i.e. when there is no Will left) when a partner dies.

Some forcefully argue that any change in the law to put cohabiting couples on a similar footing to that of married ones (or for that matter civil partners) could undermine the need for a commitment to a relationship, as represented by marriage. However, others would argue that the law needs to reflect the standards of modern society, and in that context and in the cases of cohabitees, the law does not do this currently and can be seen as treating them unfairly under outdated laws.

Whilst changes in the law have been proposed, a planned change was dropped in the run up to the 2015 General Election and until any change is implemented these differences will continue. Reform to this area of the law is not particularly vote catching which may sadly be the reason why the rights of cohabiting couples have continued to lag behind those of married couples and civil partners.

If you are interested in creating a cohabitee agreement or would like any other legal advice on the rights of unmarried couples please contact us or call 01452 411601.


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