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Law Society wants more rights for cohabiting couples

Cohabiting couples need better legal protection when their relationships break down, the Law Society has warned.

Many cohabitants believe they have the same rights as married couples but this is not the case. It means many people suffer serious financial hardship when they separate from their partners.

The Law Commission recently put forward proposals to give cohabitants similar rights to those enjoyed by married couples. However, the Government says it will not introduce any legislation relating to cohabitation during this Parliament because the whole family justice system is currently undergoing a review.

The Law Society is calling on the Government to reconsider because it feels reform is badly needed.

Law Society President John Wotton said: "One of the roles of the law is to protect the vulnerable. The law that currently exists for cohabitants is disjointed and grossly inadequate. Solicitors practising family law regularly see injustice when cohabiting couples' relationships break down.

"Unmarried couples who are living together and those who are still married, but are now living with a new partner, need to know where they stand in the event of a break-up."

Many couples protect their interests by drawing up cohabitation or "living together agreements" which state in advance how assets should be divided and what other arrangements should be made in the event of the relationship breaking down.

Such agreements give both partners the comfort of knowing that they will not suffer any injustice if the relationship should come to an end.

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