In recent days, research highlighted in Business Insider magazine has revealed that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of today’s so-called millennials believe that cohabiting with their partner before getting married is a good idea.
In comparison, only 63 per cent of ‘baby-boomers’ – defined as those born between 1946 and 1964 – believe that cohabitation before marriage is a sensible move.
The findings echo previous research which suggests that cohabitation is currently the UK’s fastest-growing family type – and is becoming increasingly popular with younger couples.
But what the younger generation tend to overlook is that couples who are living together but are not married tend to have very limited legal rights in the event of a separation.
This can prove to be particularly problematic in instances where the couple have bought a house together, or have children together, family law foundation Resolution has warned.
Last year, Resolution launched a campaign geared towards raising awareness of the law surrounding cohabitation, which came amid concerns that many Britons still wrongfully believe in the myth of common law marriage.
On its website, the organisation warns that common law marriage is not legally recognised in the UK – and that unmarried couples need to take extra steps to ensure they are protected in the event of a split.
“For couples living together it can seem normal for one partner to give up work to care for children or elderly relatives – or for the couple to make a verbal agreement where one pays the mortgage and the other pays the bills. But without having a [written] agreement in place, the court can't make your ex pay maintenance to support you just because it might be fair,” the group warns.
Cohabiting couples are advised to consider the benefits of cohabitation agreements. These are legally-binding documents which can be drawn up to determine – in writing – what will happen to any property, finances or otherwise if the couple decides to go their separate ways.
MFG Solicitors’ family team can assist in the preparation of a legally-binding cohabitation agreement. Our experts also advise on divorce, separation and all other aspects of family law. For more information about how we could help you, please contact us.