Aaron & Partners supports call to better protect rights of unmarried couples
28th November, 2017
Aaron & Partners is backing National Cohabitation Awareness Week (Nov 27 – Dec 1).
The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the lack of legal protection for cohabiting couples.
Aaron & Partners LLP is throwing its weight behind a national campaign calling for better protection for the rights of cohabiting couples.
The firm’s Family Law team wants to ‘bust the myth’ that unmarried couples living together have equivalent rights to married couples through ‘common law’ and is calling on the Government to offer more protection to those couples who live together but decide not to tie the knot.
Cohabiting couple families were the fastest growing family type between 1996 and 2016, more than doubling from 1.5 million families to 3.3 million families. The trends for Cheshire and Shropshire mirror the national picture.
But according to Sandy Edwards, a Senior Associate from Aaron & Partners’ Family Law team in Shrewsbury, this has exposed a fundamental gap within the law.
She said: “Many cohabitees are surprised to learn upon separation that it isn’t a case of all the parties’ assets or income being available to divide.’ Cohabitees don’t have the same rights as married couples and there is certainly no protection in the myth of being a “common law” spouse.
“Generally, the main asset held by a couple is their home but even if a cohabitee has spent the last 20 years living in the house, raising their family – if it is in the sole name of their partner and the relationship breaks down – they could end up homeless with nothing to show for it.
Even where the house is owned jointly, couples may find at the end of the relationship that their ‘share’ is not what they expected it to be.”
Katherine Livesey, a Senior Associate based in Chester, concurred with Sandy’s view and added “Apart from the house, the cohabitees have no other available claims against other assets regardless of the length of the relationship. This can severely disadvantage individuals, particularly with any disparity in pension rights. Maintenance claims are also off the table for cohabitees”
“It’s one of the reasons why the Family Team here at Aaron and Partners will be helping to raise awareness around the ‘common law marriage’ myth this week, but also in the hope that the Government will look at better ways to protect couples who decide not to marry. The risks of serious injustice are plain to see without proper reform”, she concludes.
Run by Resolution, the national governing body for family lawyers, National Cohabitation Awareness Week runs from November 27 – December 1.
If you would like to receive more advice on the legal issues surrounding cohabitation, please do not hesitate to contact Sandy Edwards (Shrewsbury office) or Katherine Livesey (Chester office) in our Family Law team using their details below.
Sandy Edwards – Shrewsbury Office
Family Law Senior Associate
Katherine Livesey – Chester Office
Family Law Senior Associate