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Unmarried couples urged to seek advice as part of Cohabitation Awareness Week

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Cohabiting couples across the UK are being urged to seek specialist legal advice as part of family law foundation Resolution’s Cohabitation Awareness Week campaign.

The campaign, which will kick-off on Monday 27 November, will set out to raise awareness of the legal complications that cohabiting couples who have not married or entered into a civil partnership can face in the event of a relationship breakdown.

As part of the campaign, Resolution is trying to raise awareness of the fact that – contrary to popular opinion – there is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’.

On its website, Resolution explains: “It doesn’t matter if you've lived together for years or have children. [If you are not married or in a civil partnership,] you are not legally recognised as a couple, making it very difficult to claim a share in the family home or your partner’s finances if you split.”

Despite this very worrying fact – which can prove particularly problematic in instances where a cohabiting couple shares a home which is only registered in one party’s name – research suggests that cohabitation is now the fastest-growing family type in the UK.

In fact, up-to-date figures suggests that there are currently more than three million ‘cohabitees’ across the country who could be at risk of losing everything if their relationship should fail.

The family law foundation has been in touch with solicitors and members in a bid to encourage them to write to local MPs calling for change.

However, in the meantime, the best way for couples in this situation to protect their interests is to seek specialist legal advice and draw up a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is a legally-binding document which can be drawn up by an unmarried couple in order to determine what will happen to any property, finances or otherwise in the event of a separation.

Such documents can enable couples to regulate their interests in matters such as joint bank accounts, jointly-owned or rented property, the payment of household bills and much more.

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.