Recent data released by the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of men cohabiting between the ages of 50 and 64 that have never married is on the increase. In a 15 year period, of those that have never married, there has been a sharp increase in cohabitation from just less than 12% in 2002 to 30% in 2017. Estimates show that almost 40,000 men, in their late sixties, were cohabiting in 2017, an increase from just 25,000 the previous year.
One factor that is believed to play a part in this increase over the previous 16 years is the landmark case of White v White in late 2000. This decision brought the consideration of equal division of assets as a criterion by which to measure the fairness of any award during divorce proceedings. Some suggest that there is a growing fear amongst middle aged men of losing half of their assets if their marriage were to end in divorce.
There is far less intervention by the courts into those who separate after cohabiting, in comparison to those who are married. The rights of cohabitees are often limited to their house and is dependent upon how the ownership of that house is held. There is, therefore, greater protection, in relation to retention of assets, after separation if the couple simply cohabitate.
This isn’t spelling the end for marriage as it must be noted that the data from the Office of National Statistics also shows that across all age groups ‘married’ still remains by far the most common relationship status, at 51%.
If you have been experiencing difficulties in your marriage or relationship and are concerned about what your entitlement would be after separation then please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced and recommended solicitors.