A recent poll, which was commissioned by the Co-operative Legal Services, has found that only one quarter of couples who move in together see it as a step towards marriage.
The study further found that one in five couples who plan to or are already actively cohabiting together have actively ruled marriage out and a further one in seven of the polled couples were convinced that they would never be able to afford to get married regardless of their intentions either way.
An issue that this study has revealed is that there appears to be a growing confusion amongst the public in the UK about the rights that people who live together, but remain unmarried, have when it comes to both property and issues surrounding contact with their children if a relationship ends.
Surprisingly, nearly one third of those people who were surveyed, incorrectly believe that if a couple lives together then they would have the same financial rights as married couples – and that’s down to a completely mistaken belief in the existence of “common law” marriage. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, can we correct that mistaken apprehension – there is no such thing as common-law marriage.
Official figures have shown that cohabitation is increasingly becoming the norm – even for couples intending to start a family. The upturn in the United Kingdom property market is anticipated to lead to an even further rise in the number of couples making a decision to live together.
As to the motives behind couples cohabiting, nearly four out of ten who were polled said that it was simply to live together as a couple. A further one in five said that the main motivation was to reduce living costs. Interestingly, only twenty-four percent said that they saw moving in together as an actual step towards marriage, or to test the strength of their relationship.
Regardless of the motivation behind the move towards cohabitation, what it does mean is that there will be an increasing number of people who will not enjoy the kind of legal rights that married people do.
It is therefore important that couples who cohabit know that they do not have the same rights as those who are married and that the law is different for those who live together unmarried. This is especially important when children are involved in a relationship.
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