As the first unmarried couple living together at 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds are one of the many cohabiting couples who make up the fastest growing family groups in the UK. Recent data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of cohabiting couple families is growing faster than married couple families – up over 25% over the last decade.
There are, of course, many reasons for this, including:-
- A rise in the number of people who have either divorced or never married
- Increasing male life expectancy catching up with female life expectancy
- An increasing amount of the population who are aged between 45-64
The worrying aspect for me is that those who chose to be part of a cohabiting couple family need to take additional steps to protect themselves. There is no such thing as a “common law spouse”. It is a complete myth. You are either married or you are not and if you are not, then you need to look at securing your position either in the event of the breakdown of your relationship or the death of your partner.
The law continues to lag behind the changing dynamics of relationships in our society. It does not offer the same protection to those in a cohabiting couple family. So whether in life or death, if you are part of a cohabiting couple family then you need to take active steps to ensure you are protected. Make sure you look at factors surrounding ownership of the property you occupy and provision for your partner in your will as two of the main, but not the only, issues.