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The Ministry of Justice has launched a campaign today to raise awareness of co-habitation rights.
Two million couples cohabit in England and Wales, with one in four children being born to unmarried couples.
According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, 50.7% of people think that couples who have lived together for a while have the same rights as married or civil partners and that a 'common law marriage' has recognised legal status. They also wrongly believe that by having a child together they acquire legal rights. However, only couples who marry or enter into a civil partnership will get certain rights, including legal recognition of their relationship.
Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said: "People living together should not assume that they will automatically have the same rights as married couples or civil partners. In court, there is no such thing as a common law marriage."
The campaign is highlighting the risks of not making a will, which may lead to the surviving partner inheriting nothing if the other dies. Likewise the campaign is educating people about what could happen to their home if they don't have a financial stake in a property, possibly leading to them becoming homeless if their relationship breaks down.
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