Law firm warning on figures

A forensics team was spotted on the M3 yesterday after the motorway was closed. Picture: Simon Cox

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FAMILY lawyers say figures showing a rise in the number of cohabiting couples highlights the need for couple who live together to set up a cohabiting agreement.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics in Titchfield show that in 2002 people who were ‘cohabiting: never married or civil partnered’ represented 6.8 per cent of the population. This had increased to 9.5 per cent by 2015.

Alison Hawes, family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, which has offices in Southampton, said: ‘Many people wrongly believe that couples who live together have the same rights as married couples – but this is a myth. There is no such thing in English law as a common law partner.

‘The law has not kept pace with changing lifestyles and needs reform. The only way for couples to protect themselves and their assets in the event of a split is to prepare a cohabitation agreement.’