New figures published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that the number of men and women in the UK cohabiting has increased from 1.5 million to 2.9 million in 2012. Our own Beverley Darwent has recently been quoted in the press (Telegraph article) (Daily Mail article) highlighting these new statistics and the calls for legislation to clarify the status of cohabiting couples and their rights should they separate.
Couples who live together and later separate can only make claims against their former partner’s property by establishing a claim under trust law, which is a complex area of law. They cannot make claims for maintenance for themselves, capital or pensions. Usually their claims are limited to child maintenance and sometimes the provision of a house until the child becomes an adult. Therefore, advice from a specialist family lawyer is essential to ensure that you fully understand your legal status and rights should your relationship end.
There are many supporters for law reform in this area as detailed on Resolution’s website to bring it in line with today’s changing society. However, without any such legal reform, cohabitees have very limited rights on separation and expert advice is imperative.