Recently published statistics have shown the current trends in families and household types in the UK in 2018.
The number of people living alone has reached new heights, with over 8 million in 2018. The biggest increases are in women aged 45 to 64 and men aged 65 to 74, possibly reflecting divorce rates in these age groups, though many people are also choosing single life, having never been married.
In comparison to the older generations, increasing numbers of young adults are living with their parents rather than moving out to live alone or cohabit – in 2018 a fairly huge one in four of those aged 20 to 34 were living with their parents.
Same-sex couple families have increased by more than 50% since 2015. Same-sex marriages were introduced in 2014 and, since 2017, the number of same-sex married couple families has doubled. Same-sex married couple families now represent almost a third of all same-sex couple families.
Married couple families (including both opposite-sex and same-sex married couples) remain by far the most common family type, though cohabiting couple families continue to be the fastest growing family type, compared to married or lone parents.
As family lawyers, we are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries from those who are separating and are not married. Potential claims on separation are more limited for cohabitees than for those who are married. This is despite the fact that many cohabitees will organise their affairs and develop a dependence no different than married couples, thanks to a belief in the myth of ‘common law marriage’. The law and procedure for dealing with assets when cohabitees separate can also be more complex and expensive. We still await new law in this area, to reflect this increasingly common way of living.
Introduction of civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples
Civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples are to be introduced later in the year, which will provide a new option for those cohabiting couples who wish to create legal ties with one another, but who do not believe in marriage and could not previously enter into a civil partnership. We will await the impact of this and whether it slows the growth of cohabiting couple family types.
If you’d like to find out more about the legal implications upon separation no matter what type of relationship or household you have been in, please contact our Family Team.
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