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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

05 NOV 2015

Cohabitation continues to be fastest growing relationship in UK

Journals Manager + Online Editor

@matthia5mueller

Cohabitation continues to be fastest growing relationship in UK
Figures released today (5 November 2015) show that the cohabiting couple family continues to be the fastest growing family type in the UK in 2015.

The latest statistical bulletin, Households and Families, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that cohabiting couple families in the UK have reached 3.2 million in 2015. This represents an increase of 29.7% between 2005 and 2015.

There were 3.1 million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 90,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2015. Together, cohabiting couple families account for 17% of all families in the UK.

For opposite sex cohabiting couple families, there has been a statistically significant increase from 14% of all families in 2005 to 17% in 2015. Same sex cohabiting couple families as a percentage of all families also saw an increase over the same time period (0.3% to 0.5%).

According to Resolution, cohabiting couples currently have little legal protection when they separate. Lawyer Graeme Fraser, Resolution’s spokesman on cohabitation law, explains:

'Under current cohabitation law it’s possible to live with someone for decades and even to have children together and then simply walk away without taking any responsibility for a former partner when the relationship breaks down. This can have a huge impact on women and children, particularly in cases where a mother has given up or reduced her work to raise a family.'
He continues:

'"These statistics should be regarded by policymakers as a wake-up call that cohabitation is a trend of modern society that is not going to go away. As family lawyers who see the damage caused by the lack of protection for cohabiting couples when they separate, Resolution calls for the urgent introduction of safety net legislation providing legal protection and fair outcomes at the time of a couple's separation, particularly for children and mothers left vulnerable under the existing law. In light of the latest ONS data it will be interesting to see Parliament’s reaction to the Cohabitation Rights Bill tabled by Lord Marks, which is currently in its early stages.'
Resolution released a Manifesto for Family Law earlier this year calling on the Government to reform the law on cohabitation, along with other proposals such as the introduction of 'no fault divorce' and clarification of the treatment of divorce financial settlements.

The most common family type in 2015 was the married or civil partner couple family with or without dependent children at 12.5 million. There are a total of 18.7 million registered families living in the UK in 2015.

The statistical bulletin is available to download here.

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