Official figures released yesterday by the Office of National Statistics confirm that the number of families and households in the UK has continued to rise in line with the growth of the UK population. In 2020, there were 19.4 million families, an increase of 1.4% on the previous year, and an increase of 7.4% over the past decade. Similarly, there were an estimated 27.8 million households in the UK in 2020, an increase of 5.9% over the last 10 years.
The latest data shows that there were 2.9 million lone parent families in 2020. This accounts for 14.7% of families in the UK. The data also illustrated that the number of people living alone in the UK has increased by 4% over the last 10 years; ranging from 22.8% of one-person households in London to 33.6% in Scotland and the North East of England.
Although households containing multiple families have been the fastest growing type of household over the last two decades, they still only represent 1% of all households. The average household size of 2.4 people per household in the UK has remained the same over the last two decades.
A Statistician for the ONS commented that “Married and civil partnered couple families remain the most common family type, but this is a declining trend in the UK, as more people choose to live together before, or without, getting married.”
It is important to note that from a legal perspective co-habiting couples do not have the same protection as married couples or couples in a civil partnership. It does not matter how long a couple have been together, if they are not legally married or in a civil partnership, it is incredibly difficult to obtain any rights over each other’s assets in the event of a relationship breakdown. There are ways to ensure you are protected, such as contacting a specialist solicitor to make a cohabitation agreement or a will. Although an upfront cost now, such arrangements can save both parties a significant amount of money if court proceedings are required in the future.
As family law solicitors we often see cohabiting couples struggle to manage their finances on separation, with many people believing in the principle of common law spouse. This phrase has no legal grounding and the law dealing with co-habiting couples is very black and white. Whilst it can seem like a hassle and an expense that you could avoid when embarking on a new relationship, a cohabitation agreement can be an invaluable tool should there be a dispute as to ownership of property or assets on separation. If you would like any further information in respect to cohabitation agreements or your rights following separation please do contact us on 0370 1500 100 or visit our website www.irwinmitchell.com