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‘Cohabiting couples need basic legal protections’

Coalition of organisations raise awareness of ‘common law marriage myth’

A coalition of legal organisations has written to The Guardian urging the government "to take steps to bring forward, as a minimum, basic protections for cohabiting couples".

The letter was sent by Resolution, the Association of Lawyers for Children, the Bar Council, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Family Law Bar Association, OnlyDads, OnlyMums, the Law Centres Network, the Law Society of England and Wales Family Law Committee, Legal Action Group,  Legal Aid Practitioners Group, One Plus One, Relate and Rights of Women.

The organisations note that marriage numbers are declining. Currently one in eight adults in England and Wales are cohabiting, a trend steadily increasing since 2002. However, a recent survey showed as many as two in three cohabiting couples were unaware that there is no such thing as "common law marriage" in England and Wales.

The letter concludes:

"In the interim, the government must also raise public awareness of the lack of protections in place and challenge the common law marriage myth. Only by understanding they are at risk can couples take steps to protect their family if they separate or if they are left bereaved."

For the full letter, click here.

For an article in The Guardian about the rise in deathbed weddings by couples who had mistakenly believed they had the same legal and financial rights and protections as married couples, click here.