By Brenda Spain, Head of Family Law team

The number of men and women marrying each other has fallen to its lowest level on record.

Between 1990 and 2015 the marriage rate in England and Wales fell from 13.1 marriages per 1,000 people to 8.3, while for the UK as a whole, there were 21 thousand fewer marriages in 2014 than there were in 2000.*

This demonstrates that more people than ever are choosing to co-habit, so it is important that cohabiting couples know where they stand, from the outset. 

There is no such thing as a common law wife or common law husband in the UK and assets are not divided as they would be if they were married, even if this was a long-term relationship. There are no automatic rights to pensions or maintenance so it is crucial that you know where you stand before you make the final decision to exit the relationship to make sure that your interests are protected.

Similarly, when entering into a new cohabitation situation, you should consider whether or not a Cohabitation Agreement is something you should consider entering into, particularly if one party is bringing more financially into the relationship, or of there are children. A Cohabitation Agreement can be a very helpful way of setting out the parties financial responsibilities and intention as to what should happen if the relationship should fail.

If you are considering entering or exiting a relationship, albeit marriage or cohabitation, you should always consult a solicitor initially to discuss your thoughts and the steps you need to take to ensure your interests are well protected rather than find out when it is too late. 

If you would like to arrange a free half hour initial consultation with one of our Family Law specialists, or if you would like any further information about our Family Law services, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


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