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Calls for More Legal Protection for Cohabitants

Family law organisation Resolution has repeated its call for greater legal protection for couples in cohabiting relationships.

The call follows the publication of new statistics by the ONS, which show that around one in eight adults across England and Wales are in a cohabiting relationship. According to Resolution, the law doesn’t currently provide enough legal protection for people in this type of relationship.

The need for cohabitation law reform was one of the key messages of the Manifesto for Family Law that the organisation released earlier this year.

"Cohabitation is the fastest growing type of relationship in the country, with the ONS finding that almost 12% of the population are living with a partner without being married," explained Resolution chair, Jo Edwards.

"Despite this, the law doesn't give people in this type of relationship any meaningful legal protection if they separate or if one of them dies. In this, we lag far behind many other developed countries,” she said. “More importantly, the law has failed to keep up with our own changing society. With more people cohabiting than ever before, and with this trend set to continue, we need to introduce legal recognition of cohabitees to prevent continuing injustice."

"Resolution would like to see the introduction of some form of legal protection for cohabitants to secure fair outcomes at the time of a couple’s separation or on the death of one partner,” she added. “We don't propose that cohabiting be treated the same as marriage. Under our proposals, cohabitants meeting eligibility criteria indicating a committed relationship would have a right to apply for certain financial orders if they separate. This right would be automatic unless the couple chooses to ‘opt out’."

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