Cohabiting couples may make up the fastest growing family type, but the law doesn't recognise these couples in the same way as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

If you and your partner aren’t married or in a civil partnership, you might be surprised that you have very little legal protection if you break up.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived together for years or have children. You are not legally recognised as a couple, making it very difficult to claim a share in the family home or your partner’s finances if you split.

For couples living together it can seem normal for one partner to give up work to care for children or elderly relatives – or for the couple to make a verbal agreement where one pays the mortgage and the other pays the bills. But without having an agreement in place, the court can’t make your ex pay maintenance to support you just because it might be fair.

Resolution is campaigning for cohabiting couples to have at least basic rights on relationship breakdown or death of their partner, and is also working to raise awareness so cohabiting couples can take measures to protect themselves.

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What are your rights?

What's the problem and what is the risk? Information on your rights when living together and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Rights when living together

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Resolution campaigns for government to recognise certain rights of cohabiting couples when they split.

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Cohabitation in the UK

  • 3.3m

    cohabiting families

    With 3.3m cohabiting couples in 2017, they are the fastest growing family type in England and Wales.

  • 1 in 5

    families cohabit

    1 in every 5 families in the UK is cohabiting.

  • 46%

    believe in the common-law marriage myth

    Nearly half of British adults mistakenly believe that cohabiting couples are protected by common-law marriage.