A local family lawyers are calling on unmarried couples to take action to protect themselves, as they could be vulnerable if the relationship breaks down.

Tallents Solicitors in Newark, Southwell & Mansfield made the calls as part of a national Cohabitation Awareness Week that was led by Resolution, who campaign for a fairer family justice system.

Cohabitation Awareness Week from 27th November – 1st December, aimed to raise awareness about the lack of rights that exist for unmarried couples who live together.

There are about 7 million people in the UK living in this type of relationship, making this the fastest growing family type in the country, representing 17% of all families.

Andrew Stout, Partner and Family lawyer at Tallents Solicitors  says hundreds of unmarried couples at risk of losing everything

Andrew Stout

Andrew Stout from Tallents in Newark said:

“Despite the myth of “common law marriage”, 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.”

Helen Shaw is a family lawyer working at Tallents Solicitors in Mansfield explains how hundreds of unmarried couples are at risk of losing everything

Helen Shaw

Helen Shaw, family solicitor at Tallents in Mansfield explained that most couples she worked with mistakenly believe that they acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a certain amount of time or having children together.  This can have a huge impact on partners who have given up or reduced their workload to raise a family.

Helen said:

“The sad reality is that unmarried couples in the local area have very limited legal rights and responsibilities towards each other if the relationship breaks down.

“I regularly meet people who have been affected in this way, and because of the lack of legal protection, there are times when I simply can’t help them.

“This is why we are urging all cohabiting couples in the local area to consider taking out basic protections, such as a cohabitation agreement to protect both partners if they separate, or think about life insurance. By setting out your intentions in these documents, you’ll be in a much better situation if the unexpected happens.”

As numbers of cohabiting couples are projected to continue their rise, it’s imperative that we raise awareness of this issue and encourage government to bring the law in line with the modern family.

Tallents have family lawyers available at their Newark and Mansfield offices to help anyone with family law issues. Their solicitors attend the free family law drop-in clinic at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell, held on Tuesday evenings, 5-7pm.