Marriages, divorces and cohabitee legal rights in 2012

8th March 2015 by


Towards the end of 2012, a flurry of statistics revealed a number of facts about relationships in the UK.

Some of the findings from the various polls left family lawyers questioning the role of the UK legislature in looking after the rights of UK citizens and many speculated that the long-term economic downturn being experienced by the country would see a sharp increase in activity for family lawyers once the financial situation rallied.

The 2011 Census results were released in December, revealing that, for the first time since records began, the number of married adults (aged over 16) fell to under 50 per cent, with just 46.6 per cent saying they were married. The census revealed that there were 2.3million cohabiting couples in the UK in 2011 making up 10 per cent of family households. Married couples represented 33 per cent of the population.

In the light of these findings, and with the numbers of cohabiting families increasing rapidly, Resolution, the family lawyers association, made fresh calls to the government to change family law in England and Wales so that greater protection for cohabitees was offered in the event of relationship breakdown.

Chair of Resolution’s Cohabitation Committee Steve Kirwan said that the situation for people who live together, in many cases, created “injustice and hardship”. He added that regardless of a person’s views on marriage and cohabiting, family law, as it stood, failed to reflect the way people were choosing to live their lives. He added that “sadly, children, who were not party to their parents’ decision not to marry, can often be affected”.

Baroness Hale had pointed out earlier in the year that there was a distinct disparity between the legal treatment of cohabiting couples who separate in Scotland and those who reside south of the border.

Citing the case of Gow v Grant, ruled upon in the Supreme Court in August 2012, which tested the introduction of cohabitant’s rights in Scottish law, she said, “It does not impose upon unmarried couples the responsibilities of marriage, but redresses the gains and losses flowing from their relationship.”

She added that cohabitants in England and Wales deserved the same rights in family law.

Another poll published in December 2012, carried out by a law firm, found that 57 per cent of UK residents believe that it is too easy to get a divorce in England and Wales. Interestingly, while an expected 58 per cent of the married respondents agreed it was “too easy to divorce these days” a little over half of the divorced pollsters also agreed with the statement.

Significantly, the majority of young people, aged 18 to 24, agreed that it was too easy to divorce and while divorce lawyers generally agree that most divorcing couples do make attempts to work out their differences, or have suffered for some time in a difficult relationship, it is believed that the media portrayal of “easy come, easy go” celebrity weddings and divorces may have some bearing on the fact that so many young UK residents feel divorce is “easy”.

Healys divorce family lawyers in London and Brighton eschewing the statistics

Here at Healys, we believe that our clients are never just a number and that their circumstances are singular and always of the utmost relevance to us as solicitors.

We know, from years of experience, that we can best serve our clients by listening to them carefully and offering our balanced judgement on how we can best protect their best interests through the family law system and, if necessary, through the courts.

If you wish to speak to a divorce solicitor in Brighton please call 01273 685 888 or email an enquiry to

Alternatively our team of family lawyers in London can be reached on 020 7822 4000. We look forward to helping you.