It is of huge regret to advise a client at the end of years of cohabitation, often involving children, that there is no concept of a ‘common law wife’ and her entitlement to financial relief is far less than if she were married.

Earlier this month, the prime minister, Theresa May announced advancements in the concept of civil partnerships, previously restricted to cohabiting same-sex couples and used mainly prior to the availability of marriage to those in the same-sex community. Mrs May has announced that civil partnerships are to be made available to heterosexual couples who do not wish to enter into marriage. This concept will bring parity to all: same-sex and heterosexual couples will have the choice of marriage or civil partnership.

Either way, in order to secure your rights whatever your choice of cohabitation, it is hugely advantageous to formalise that union by entering into a civil partnership, or marriage.  To do so will give you statutory protection and ensure your entitlement to a fair financial settlement, should that relationship end.