Cohabitation itself gives no legal status to a couple or financial protection, unlike marriage and civil partnership. Many people still think “common law marriage” exists, when in reality unmarried couples have no ownership of each other's property if they separate or one cohabitant dies, no matter how long they have lived together and even if they have children. Equally, there are a number of people who move from living together to marriage without a good understanding as to what marriage means and the financial consequences of those oh so romantic vows! The paper below explains the current law for cohabitees and the proposed changes. Awareness of the law is key for those proposing to live together.
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which provides general information about the number of cohabiting couples, how the law applies to cohabitants, and about the Law Commission’s proposals for reform.