While January is known by many as Divorce Month (see our last blog) figures released just at the end of 2015 showed that divorce rates in the UK are at a 40-year low.

The most recent data available on the number of divorces in Scotland showed that in the last four years, divorce rates have fallen by 14% with the UK average showing a 3% decrease in the number of divorces in the last year.

While the divorce rate has reached a 40 year low, the marriage rate has increased with the gap between couples marrying and getting divorced at its widest point since 1992. Some experts stated that the ever-growing popularity of cohabitation agreements and the growing acceptance of couples living together before getting married has ultimately strengthened marriage and led to a decrease in the number of divorces.

Cohabitation in the UK

Cohabitation is the fastest growing family type in the UK according to the last census with the number of couples cohabiting up by 30% in a decade and more than double in comparison to the number of partners living in such an arrangement in the mid-1990s.

Cohabiting allows couples to live together without marriage, and legal agreements between the couple can be established so that assets are not lost if a couple does opt to live together.While cohabitation has been cited for preventing a large number of divorces, the figures released by the Office of National Statistics did not include the number of cohabitants that split up.

Jo Edwards, chair of the family law organisation Resolution, said: “The rise in cohabiting couples, the fastest growing type of household in Britain, may also play a role [in the changing divorce rates] – cohabitation separation is not included in these statistics.

“Whatever the reason, there are still many thousands of British families who are experiencing family breakdown every year, whether that’s divorce or separation.”

Thankfully, however, there are some steps you can take to protect your assets when cohabiting that can prove beneficial if your relationship does break down.

Why are Cohabitation Agreements Beneficial?

While cohabitation can stabilise relationships, there is still a chance that if you are living with someone, the relationship may break down. Sadly, while the law offers some protection for those living together, the position of those who are unmarried is more unstable in the eyes of the law than those who are married or in civil partnerships.

A cohabitation agreement can be an exceptionally useful tool that can protect assets for those in the relationship.  A cohabitation agreement is a contract between the cohabiting couples which regulates the affairs of unmarried couples so that finances and childcare can be arranged before cohabiting. Such an agreement will allow you to easily divide your assets and will govern what if your partner passes away. Furthermore, a cohabitation agreement can be useful as you can transfer the items addressed in a cohabitation agreement into a prenuptial agreement thus ensuring that some assets remain protected.

Cohabitation Agreement and Family Law Experts: Contact Us

If you require the advice of our team of expert solicitors regarding a cohabitation agreement, a prenuptial agreement or any other family matter, contact our team today using our online contact form.