It was announced this week in the Office for National Statistics’ latest survey of trends in living arrangements within the UK, that cohabiting families are continuing to grow faster than married couples and single parent families.

There has been an increase of 25.8% in cohabiting families over the decade 2008 to 2018. The number of same-sex couple families has grown by more than 50% since 2015, with more than four times as many same-sex married couple families in 2018 as compared with 2015.

The law in relation to financial provision for unmarried couples is narrower than it is for married couples. This is because unmarried couples are not subject to the same financial obligations to one another that arise on marriage. However, if you are not married, there are still steps you can take to protect your position before separation and for financial provision following the breakdown of the relationship. 

It is possible to enter into a cohabitation agreement at any stage of your relationship which sets out the terms on which you agree to deal with your finances whilst living together to include whether you will have a joint bank account, how you will share mortgage payments and bills and how you wish your finances to be divided in the event one of you dies or in the event of a separation.  It is also possible to include provisions for how you want arrangements to change on significant life events, for example if you have children or one of you can no longer work.

If you do separate, you may wish to have a further agreement in relation to financial matters which can be drawn up into a Separation Agreement. This will help you to regulate the terms of your separation and may provide useful guidance to a Court as to your intentions at the time should a future dispute arise. 

If you have children with your former partner and believe that you need financial assistance from the other parent to help with the cost of raising the children, it is possible to make an application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act.  The primary purpose of the application will be to meet the needs of the child(ren)  and it is therefore only their needs that will be taken into account. This is unlike other matrimonial laws which can also take into account the needs of the parent. There are various applications that can be applied for which include: periodical payments for the benefit of the children, a lump sum to be used for the children and a settlement or transfer of property to provide a home for the children during their minority. 

If you would like any further information on the contents of this article or family law in general please contact Sarah Scriven on 01494 478684 or at