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Cohabitation - Election could see Reforms called for by Family Lawyers

Speaking on his podcast last week, the former chancellor George Osborne has speculated that a General Election might be called for November 14th this year.

Should the Labour Party be victorious, we were told by Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Attorney General, that the Party has big plans to reform the law on cohabitation. Reform in this area is part of Resolution’s Vision for Family Justice and supported by the family team at Glanvilles. Resolution is an association with over 6500 members advocating for reform in family law. Tina Day, Senior Associate of Glanvilles and member of Resolution backs the call for reforms where the law is complex, outdated and unfair. With cohabiting couples being the fastest growing family group in the UK, any change is sure to be welcome and of great benefit to many people.

Sadly, it is often only on the breakdown of a relationship that a cohabitant will discover how little they are provided for by the law. Despite the widespread discussion on the topic, many people still believe they are party to a “common law marriage”, whereby they have acquired rights in respect of their partner’s property due to the length of time they have lived together. This of course, is a complete myth. The extent to which the law differs relating to couples depending on their marital status comes as a surprise to many. To highlight a few differences between cohabitants and spouses, an unmarried father does not have parental responsibility for his child as of right, whereas a married father does. Upon divorce, a spouse can apply for maintenance to be paid to them by their husband or wife. A cohabitant cannot. If an unmarried person dies without having made a will, their partner will not automatically inherit any of their property. This is not the case for spouses, who are provided for by the intestacy rules which might not meet their full needs.

The Family Team at Glanvilles can offer advice and assistance on all aspects of family law.


If you require further legal advice, please contact one of our experienced solicitors by emailing hello@glanvilles.co.uk who would be happy to assist.  


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice, and should not be relied upon as advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. All content was correct at the time of publishing. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.