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Changing face of the UK's relationships revealed

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According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics this week, less than half the adult population in England and Wales are now married.  Cohabitation amongst couples appears to have become the norm, and I must say, also applies to me. 

It is difficult to say what has led to the decrease in the number of people choosing to tie the knot.  Some experts have commented that it is due to culmination of the past 30 years, during which cohabitation has become the norm and the various governments have ceased to offer tax breaks, legal privileges or state approval to the married.  For myself, I just can’t convince my other half to propose!

The figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that 21.6 million of the 44.9 million adults who live in England and Wales are married, which is equivalent to 48.4% of the population. The amount of people now not getting married, and cohabiting instead, has almost doubled since the 1970s.

As a solicitor specialising in Will and estate disputes, I have seen an increase in the number of inheritance disputes brought by cohabitees against their partner’s estates, and attribute this increase to the fact that there are just more unmarried couples now, than there were years ago. What some people do not realise is that, if they are not married, and do not make a Will, they have no automatic right to inherit their partners’ estate.  If the partner’s family do not agree to let them have something, the surviving partner sometimes has no choice but to start a court case. It never fails to surprise me how often the family of the deceased turn on the partner of the deceased, despite having had a good relationship for many years.

If you think you may have a claim against your partner’s estate, then contact our specialist litigation team who deal with inheritance disputes on 01616 966 229, or by email at consumer@stephensons.co.uk.  If you are of limited financial means, you may even be entitled to Legal Aid, and we can advise you of this quickly over the phone.  We also offer a range of other funding options, if you are not eligible.

By inheritance disputes solicitor, Heather Korwin-Szymanowska