Calls for greater rights for co-habiting couples as numbers surge

Greater financial rights over things such as pensions need to be introduced for cohabiting couples, as it's revealed the number of unmarried couples living together has surged over the past decade.

Publishing data on families and households for 2018, today, 7 August, the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster that married and lone parent families. Between 2008 and 2018, the number increased by 25.8 per cent, from 2.7 million in 2008 to 3.4 million in 2018.

However, Royal London pensions specialist, Helen Morrissey has warned that many couples don’t know that they are not entitled to the same financial rights as married couples.

“Today’s figures show the number of people choosing to cohabit is outstripping that of those choosing to marry. However, what many of these couples don’t know is that while they will live together and often raise families together like their married counterparts they don’t have the same rights when it comes to things like pensions," she said.

“This means the death of a partner or the end of the relationship can leave people at very real financial risk. While there are moves to let mixed sex couples enter civil partnerships we need greater awareness of the need for cohabiting couples to plan their finances to mitigate against financial shocks.”

The ONS also noted that there is no such thing as a common law marriage in the UK, meaning that cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples.

“The Cohabitation Rights Bill, which addresses the rights of cohabiting couples, is in the early stages of passing through parliament," it stated.

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