Lawyer warns couples: Protect yourselves or risk everything

Nov 26, 2017

Annabel Hayward pictured, a director at Hawkins Family Law, made the calls as part of a national Cohabitation Awareness Week (November 27-December 2) that is being led by Resolution, which campaign for a fairer family justice system. 

Cohabitation Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about the lack of rights that exist for unmarried couples who live together.

There are about seven million people in the UK living in this type of relationship, making this the fastest growing family type in the country.

Mrs Hayward explained that most couples she worked with mistakenly believe that they acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a certain amount of time or having children together. 

“The sad reality is that unmarried couples have very limited legal rights and responsibilities towards each other if the relationship breaks down. I regularly meet people who have been affected in this way and, because of the lack of legal protection, there are times when I simply cannot help them. 

“This is why I urge all cohabiting couples to consider taking out basic protections, such as a cohabitation agreement to protect both partners if they separate, or think about life insurance. By setting out your intentions in these documents, you will be in a much better situation if the unexpected happens.”

Mrs Hayward added that Resolution had made resources available both to the public and local advice providers, such as mortgage advisers, to help them to spread the word to cohabiting couples they work with.

“It is likely the number of cohabiting couples will continue to grow in future and that more people will be affected by these issues. This is why I would urge all cohabiting couples to consider their legal situation, and take the steps to better protect themselves in the future.”  

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