Family Law Solicitor discusses the change in Family Dynamics

It has been reported in The Times that not only are more and more grown-up children returning to the family home, now they are bringing their partners with them.

The “multi-family” is apparently the fastest-growing household, in which offspring move back into the family home and bring their partner.

Student debts, the increase in property prices and the difficulty in securing employment and a mortgage are all reported to contribute to the new “boomerang plus one” trend.

The Office for National Statistics has also found a sharp decline in the traditional nuclear family of married parents with Children, with more children now living with parents who are not married. The figures quoted within the report suggest that cohabitation is no longer a trial run for marriage, but a permanent choice for many couples.

It is essential that prior to Cohabitation, couples are fully aware of their legal rights. There is no such thing as “common law marriage” and quite simply, the Law dealing with what happens when these relationships end has not kept up with the increasing trend of cohabitees.

Cohabitees do not have the same legal rights upon the Breakdown of a Relationship as those that are married or have entered into a Civil Partnership. It makes no difference that they may have lived together for many years; they still will not be entitled to the same protections that spouses or Civil Partners enjoy.

Cohabitants have no right to be maintained by each other to help meet living costs nor can they make a claim upon their partner’s pension upon the breakdown of their relationship. Property claims are generally limited to the way the property is legally owned.

Where there are children however, cohabitants can claim child maintenance from their former cohabitee until the children reach majority. There are some situations where the Court will order one parent to provide a home for the child until the child is independent, however such circumstances are few and far between.

Cohabitees must be aware that their legal position compares starkly with the financial claims upon Divorce or Dissolution of a Civil Partnership.

By Family Law Solicitor Georgina Chase

For more information about Cohabitation, Separation or Divorce, please email one of our Family Law Solicitors at or call us on 0800 916 9055.

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