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Labour Announce Commitment to Cohabitation Reform

Labour proposes reform to Cohabitation Laws

At the recent Labour Party Conference 2023, Emily Thornberry MP, the Shadow Attorney General, announced that a Labour government would create reform around cohabitation laws in the UK, to support the UK’s fastest growing family type and offer couples proper protection.

Thornberry said that women would be given increased rights to accessing financial support if their relationship breaks down. She expressed that Labour would reform the law so that the women would not be forced to remain in unhappy or abusive relationships in order to feel financially secure.

The lack protection for cohabiting couples means that favour leans towards the bigger earner in the relationship – typically men.

New laws would bring cohabiting couples the type of protection enjoyed by married couples and target those in cohabiting relationships where one partner earns less than the other. It would also work to support women who feel trapped in their relationship because they are not financially secure enough to leave their partner.

There are more than 3.6 million cohabiting couples in the UK. In 2022, the family type made up 18% of all families, also accounting for ¾ of the total growth in family number in the last decade.

Many of these couples live believing they are protected under the ‘common law marriage’. However, this is a myth, and cohabiting couples have little to no protection should their relationship end or one spouse pass away without having made a will.

We have a range of support available for cohabiting couples and our lawyers can offer tailored advice specific to your situation.


What is cohabitation?

Pros and Cons of Cohabitation

Breakdown of a cohabitation relationship

What happens if we break up?

What happens to property?


Do cohabitees have rights? Watch on YouTube, Stowe Talks or Listen on Spotify

What is a cohabitation agreement?

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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