Nearly half of unmarried couples who live together wrongly believe they share the same rights as others who are married, according to a survey.
Some 46% of the public as a whole believe couples who live together share a ‘common law’ marriage – meaning they would have the same rights as a married couple, the British Social Attitudes Survey of people in England and Wales discovered.
According to the researchers, cohabiting couples account for the fastest growing type of household in England and Wales.
“It is a huge concern because it has been going on for years and years.
“We have nearly four million cohabiting couples in the country all under the mistaken belief that they have got rights.
“What is a common law husband or wife? It does not exist. The phrase was invented by the Daily Mail many years ago just to give status to people living together.
“You do not have rights just because you choose to live together. If you are in a common law situation, in a marriage you have rights – if you are not married, you do not.”
“If you buy a property together and you are not married, if your name is not on the title you have an immediate problem.
“People think that just because you move in together and you start paying towards the bills that gives you rights – that does not necessarily.
“You don’t inherit if the other person dies – you do not automatically inherit their estate. People have no idea that is the case.”
Casual versus committed
“What you can do is enter into a cohabitation agreement because the status of people living together is known as cohabitees,”
“If you draw up an agreement you can obtain those rights but whether there should be imposed legislation is something that we have been fighting over for 40 years.”
“This debate has been going on for many years with the religious body in Parliament saying there is no way that we are going to change the law over cohabitation, if you want rights then get rights.
“That has been the case for many years and that injustices caused by this, particularly to women who have believed they were in a relationship that had rights has been untenable