The growing trend of cohabiting couples


Cohabiting is on the increase and many people believe they have “common law” rights. But this is not the case. On 28 January 2015 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its Household and Families 2014 statistical bulletin, providing annual statistics on the number of families by type, people in families by type and children in families by type.


  • In 2014 there were 18.6 million families in the UK. Of these, 12.5 million were married couple families. This is the most common family type in the UK.
  • Cohabiting couple families grew by 29.7% between 2004 and 2014. This is the fastest growing type of family in the UK.
  • In 2014 there were 2.0 million lone parents with dependent children in the UK. Women accounted for 91% of lone parents with dependent children.

Cohabiting couple families account for 16.4% of all families in the UK.

51% of respondents to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008 thought that unmarried couples who live together for some time probably or definitely had a “common law marriage” giving them the same legal rights as married couples.

This is not legally the case.


There is a bill which addresses the rights of cohabiting couples which is in the early stages of passing through the parliament and therefore the law may change in the future.

However, right now, couples who live together have very few rights in law in the event of relationship breakdown.  There is no such thing as a ‘common-law’ husband or wife and there is no length of co-habitation that will change this.

The Family Team at Pinney Talfourd can advise regarding cohabitation agreements and trust deeds to help protect couples and their assets in the event of separation.

Call 01708 229 444 for more information or visit the Family Law webpage to book an appointment online and get peace of mind.


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