On 15th December, the Cohabitation Rights Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords and passed through to Committee stage.
Cohabitation is becoming increasingly common and more couples are living together than ever before. It has been estimated that there are currently 2,859,000 cohabiting households in Britain and many organisations such as Resolution have been campaigning for cohabitation law reform for some time. Currently cohabiting couples have little protection when they separate. Many couples assume that they are protected on separation and have similar rights as married couples; this is unfortunately not the case.
If passed, the bill would give cohabiting couples better legal protection. Amongst the provisions, cohabiting couples would gain the right to apply for a financial settlement within 2 years of a relationship ending. Whether the Bill will be passed into law remains to be seen, however the passing of the Bill to the Committee stage is a welcome step in the right direction for many family lawyers who often find advising cohabitants on the breakdown of their relationship difficult due to the wide interpretation of case law.
Until the bill is passed cohabitants should seek legal advice about their position during the relationship, when important decisions are being made such as the purchase of a property. A Cohabitation Agreement is a way to avoid uncertainty and sets out clearly who owns what and what would happen if the relationship were to end.
Our specialist lawyers in our Altrincham or Manchester offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide which option would be the right decision for your situation. Please contact us on 0161 927 3118 for a free 20 minute consultation.