Cohabiting couples are the UK’s fastest and most significantly increasing family type. There are more than 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the UK.

Many of these couples believe they are protected under the ‘common law marriage’. However, this is a myth. Cohabiting couples have little to no protection should their relationship end or one spouse passes away without having made a Will.

There could however, be a little hope on the horizon.

At the recent Labour Party Conference in 2023, Emily Thornberry MP, the Shadow Attorney General, announced that a Labour government would create reform around cohabitation laws in the UK, to support the UK’s fastest growing family type and offer couples proper protection.

New laws would bring cohabiting couples the type of protection enjoyed by married couples and target those in cohabiting relationships where one partner earns less than the other.

The plan was welcomed by charities and advocacy groups. Jo Edwards, law reform lead for the family justice body Resolution said: ‘Cohabiting couples currently have little to no legal protection when they separate, with no safety net in place to protect those left financially vulnerable if their relationship ends.

‘If a couple separates or a cohabiting partner passes away without making a Will, it is invariably women who face significant financial difficulty. This is regardless of the level of commitment shown, including the length of their relationship or the birth of children.

For further advice on cohabitation don’t hesitate to contact our family team on 01792 468684 or email

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