Thousands of cohabiting couples across the UK are living together under the assumption that they share the same rights as those married or in a civil partnership. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case.
As part of Cohabitation Awareness Week, family law charity Resolution and research consultancy ComRes published a poll looking at the most common myths and mistruths surrounding cohabitation.
Its survey found that a quarter (27 per cent) of Brits believe that, after living together for more than two years, unmarried couples have similar rights to married couples if they break up.
Likewise, 37 per cent of Brits think it is true that unmarried couples who have lived together for more than two years benefit from what is known as a “common law marriage”. Despite its common usage, a common law marriage does not have legal recognition.
Resolution chair Nigel Shepherd says much of the population is in agreement that the laws surrounding cohabitation need to change, with 84 per cent of Brits saying the Government should take steps to protect unmarried couples.
“[The] poll shows that many still believe in the myth that they will get financial rights through ‘common-law marriage’. This means millions of cohabiting couples are unaware that they don’t have automatic claims, for example on the property they live in, if they split up. This makes it less likely they’ll take steps to protect themselves,” he said.
“Society has changed – it’s time for our laws to catch up.”