Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics regarding trends in UK living arrangements highlight the continuing rapid changes in our society.
The number of cohabitee families is still growing faster than married couple families or lone parent families. The increase in cohabitee families between 2008 and 2018 was a massive 25.8%.
Another interesting statistic is the number of same-sex couple families. This number has grown by over 50 per cent since 2015 – in 2018 there were more than four times as many same-sex married couple families as there were in 2015.
In the last 10 years the number of families in the UK generally increased by 8% from 17.7 million in 2008 to 19.1 million in 2018, while the number of people living alone in 2018 topped 8 million having been 7.7 million in the previous year. The increase is primarily accounted for by the number of women and men in the age brackets 45 to 64 years and 65 to 74 years respectively.
In 2018, one in four young adults (3.4 million) aged 20 to 34 years were living with their parents.
Despite the rapidity and scale of these changes, there remains no coherent legal code governing the rights of unmarried couples on relationship breakdown. Cohabitees’ remedies are a mixture of judge made law (decided cases) and snippets of various Acts of Parliament.
The risks of litigation for separating unmarried couples are higher than for married couples because they face what can be arbitrary decisions from the courts – and legal costs are ordered on a ‘winner takes all’ basis (unlike separating married couples).
We cannot overstress the importance of seeking competent legal advice at an early stage when confronted with problems in your unmarried relationship. Please contact us if you would like to find out more.
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