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Pitfalls of cohabiting

My mother was a Relate counsellor and January is the busiest month for couples seeking relationship advice. Many couples are unmarried, as I can testify from being part of 3.3 million couples cohabiting in 2017. Few are aware of rights of cohabiting couples if the relationship breaks down. Did you know that a common law partner doesn’t exist in law?

Cohabiting couple

Living in sin

Attitudes in society have changed, as cohabiting couples are the fastest-growing family type. Under current law, you are able to live with someone for years and have children, but not take responsibility if the relationship breaks down.

Money bliss

A spouse (or civil partner) who is not liable to income tax above the basic rate can transfer £1,050 of their personal allowance to their spouse, provided that the recipient of the transfer is not liable to income tax above the basic rate. Additionally, married couples can reduce the income tax paid on savings, investments, or on a rental property if one spouse pays a lower rate of tax. It also aids married couples when selling assets and reducing the capital gains tax.

Cohabiting vs marriage

According to the Citizens Advice, cohabiting differs from marriage in 6 ways:

  1. If a cohabiting partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything.
  2. An unmarried partner who stays at home to care for children cannot make any claims for property, maintenance or pension-sharing.
  3. Cohabiting partners cannot access their partner's bank account if they die.
  4. An unmarried couple can separate without going to court.
  5. Cohabiting couples are not legally obliged to support each other financially.
  6. If you are the unmarried partner of a tenant, you have no rights to stay in the accommodation if you are asked to leave.

A Resolution survey, found 84% of people thought the government should take steps to make sure unmarried cohabiting couples knew they did not have the same legal protection as married couples.

If there are no children, cohabiting has real advantages, as you can get to know each other, before getting married. By spending time living together, the couple avoid nasty surprises and can plan to marry or leave at any point.

If you believe in the sanctity of marriage, then cohabiting is pointless, as it takes years for a relationship to breakdown; as evidenced by marriages failing decades later. Before rushing to tie the knot in 2018, the average wedding costs around £16,000; a financial incentive to remain cohabiting.

ChildMax is for married and cohabiting couples, whether employed or self-employed. It pays your take home salary while you’re on 12 months’ unpaid leave looking after a sick child. The premiums start from £49.50 or for easy budgeting an initial payment of £8.25 followed by eleven monthly payments of £3.75. Get a quote with 5 questions which takes one minute and buy a policy with 12 questions.

Visit at or call the UK call centre 0333 323 0098 for more information.


Date: 08 January 2018 by Max Robinson