In 2016, there were 249,793 marriages in England and Wales which was 1.7% more than 2015 but 1% fewer than in 2014. Marriage rates for same-sex couples in 2016 increased by 8.1%. These statistics are the latest report by the Office of National Statistics on marriage in England and Wales. Despite the small increase between 2015 and 2016 marriage rates remain at a historical low.  

It is likely that the amount of marriages will continue to fall as more couples choose to cohabit and/or  have children without being married. Most couples do not feel the obligation to get married in their way their grandparents did. 

It is important for unmarried couples to consider their legal rights and any legal implications of cohabiting. There is a common misconception that ‘common law marriage’ exists, but it is simply not true. The truth is that unmarried couples have fewer legal rights than married couples.

Unmarried couples may want to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement prior to moving in together, or if their circumstances change, for example having children. Cohabitation agreements can include a variety of issues including:-

– How they pay rent, mortgage or bills 

– finances including what happens to joint bank accounts or savings 

– property and assets, owned prior to cohabitation or during. 

– arrangements for children 

– pets 

– next of kin rights 

For an agreement to be valid, both parties need to enter into it freely and voluntarily, the agreement needs to be in the form of a deed, each person needs to sign it and it needs to be reviewed and kept up to date for major life changes. We can only advise one party on a cohabitation agreement therefore your partner would need to take their own independent legal advice. 

If you would like some advice on cohabitation agreements please do not hesitate to contact our family team on 01243790532 or email