Important differences between married and unmarried couples living together.

Not ready to say "I Do", but want to live as though you were married?

Nowadays, when a couple decide it is time to take the first big step in their relationship commitment, rarely is marriage at the top of the to-do list.

Living as a cohabiting couple (not married) is increasingly common for a variety of reasons.

Many couples decide that living together, buying a home, and making a serious financial commitment is their preferential route before they say “I do”. Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family unit in the United Kingdom and at present have very limited protection of their situation.

It is an exciting and happy time from the moment the decision is made to ‘move in together’ to picking out furniture and décor, saving to buy your first house together, and possibly even planning to have children. However, many couples don’t realise that there are a few disadvantages of living together without the protection of marriage. 

What do unmarried couples need to consider?

There are certain rights that cohabiting couples do not have, that those who are married do. Taking the time to understand the differences is important. Whether you are already an existing cohabiting couple, or you are proposing to be, it is worth a few moments to make yourself aware of the following points:-

  • No duty by either party to provide any financial support during the relationship.
  • Should the relationship break down there is no finance and property provision due to there being no specific rights or remedies.
  • Should there be children involved, there is no parental responsibility for an unmarried father, unless they are named on the birth certificate, a court order or written agreement with the mother.
  • If an existing Will is in place, any breakdown has no effect and neither party have a right to inherit each other’s property.

How can cohabiting couples protect themselves against these issues without getting married?

We will be looking at each point in depth over a series of articles to provide you with further information and possible solutions and suggestions to make your cohabitation secure and protected.

To get started, existing options of protection are in the form of a Cohabitation Agreement. However, sometimes this is not considered to be enough. We will be looking into different solutions for the variety of things you might need to consider such as children, property ownership, finances and inheritance, and more.

Will the law improve to support this common way of living?

The Government have been called upon to introduce legislation to protect non-married couples and the following article provides further information:-

‘Long overdue’ legislation to protect separating cohabiting couples and their families should be introduced ‘as soon as possible’, lawyers have argued, almost ten years since the Law Commission recommended protecting non-married couples.

“A ‘Long overdue’ cohabitation law urgently needed.” from Solicitors Journal

What you can do today.

If you are an existing cohabiting couple, or are taking the next big step in your lives to join many UK homeowners in the same position and would like to speak with someone further about the content of this article and your personal options, our team of specialist consultants are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation.