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Increasing numbers of unmarried couples are living together

By Marc

Increasing numbers of couples are choosing to live together without getting married.

The number of cohabiting couple families continues to grow faster than married couple and lone parent families, with an increase of 25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018, data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

This is not a religious sermon and everyone is entitled to their own living arrangements, but there are financial consequences to cohabiting.

Married and civil partner couple families were the most common family type in the UK in 2018, representing two-thirds (67.1%) of all families.

Cohabiting couple families were the second-largest family type at 3.4 million (17.9%), followed by 2.9 million (15%) lone parent families.

Since 2008, the share of married couple families has declined from 69.1% of all families, while the share of cohabiting couple families has increased from 15.3%.

Cohabiting couple families were the fastest-growing family type over the past decade with an increase of 25.8% from 2.7 million in 2008.

This may be explained by an increasing trend to cohabit instead of marrying, or to cohabit before marriage.

There is no such thing as a common law marriage in the UK, meaning that cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples.

This means your property would not automatically be passed on to your spouse on death without a tax liability.

It can also be harder to be granted access to a loved ones pension or bank account if you are not married or have not been explicitly named as a beneficiary.

Obviously, you should get married for love and if that is your chosen option and it shouldn’t be purely a financial or tax decision.

But it is important to consider the financial consequences when moving into a property with someone else so you are protected if things go wrong such as if one party wants to sell, and so it is clear what will happen once one of you is no longer around.


  • HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen