Latest insights from our experts

Posted 12 March 2019
by Tracy Lambert

Unmarried Couples Living Together

Couple in front of the sun

A recent survey on British Social Attitudes published in January 2019 confirmed that 46% of those surveyed were under the impression that cohabiting couples formed a “common law marriage” – please be aware that there is no such thing as common law marriage.

Couples who live together do not acquire the same rights as married couples. This can be to their detriment, particularly, if there are significant assets in the ownership of one party.

On the separation of a cohabiting couple, only those assets in joint names fall to be considered on separation. All other assets are retained by the party owning them.

This can create hardship for a party who discovers on separation that they have no rights over the home they were living in for the last 20 or 30 years and that they have no entitlement to any interest in their partner’s pension.

Marriage creates rights for spouses entitling them to a fair share of the finances on divorce, the principles of equality, fairness and need are upheld by the courts in exercising those rights.

We can draft cohabitation agreements for couples intending to live together to try and ensure that they are afforded greater protection, but until there is a change in the legal framework, the position is still far from satisfactory.

If you need specialist legal advice on cohabitation or separation, then please contact our experienced team of family law solicitors on 01392 207020 or by emailing

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About the author

Tracy Lambert

Partner and Solicitor

Partner based in Exeter's family team