Hundreds of unmarried couples in West Norfolk face the risk of losing everything if their relationships break down, a local lawyer has warned.
Family lawyer with Hayes and Storr, Robert Colwell has called on unmarried couples to take action to protect themselves, as they could be vulnerable if the relationship breaks down.
He has made the calls during this week’s national Cohabitation Awareness Week that is led by Resolution, who campaign for a fairer family justice system.
Cohabitation Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about the lack of rights that exist for unmarried couples who live together. There are about seven million people in the UK living in this type of relationship, making this the fastest growing family type in the country.
Mr Colwell explained that most couples he worked with mistakenly believe that they acquire “common law” rights after living with their partner for a certain amount of time or having children together.
He said: “The sad reality is that unmarried couples in West Norfolk have very limited legal rights and responsibilities towards each other if the relationship breaks down.
“I regularly meet people who have been affected in this way, and because of the lack of legal protection, there are times when I simply can’t help them. This is why I urge all cohabiting couples in West Norfolk to consider taking out basic protections, such as a cohabitation agreement to protect both partners if they separate, or think about life insurance. By setting out your intentions in these documents, you’ll be in a much better situation if the unexpected happens.”
Mr Colwell, who works at all Hayes and Storrs offices but mostly in Lynn and Fakenham, said Resolution had made resources available, to the public and advice providers, such as mortgage advisers, to help them spread the word.