There is an emerging generation of young adults who, in an age where ‘getting on the property ladder’ is an almost unrealistic prospect, favour the rental market and the possibility of transitory living over home ownership and the idea of being ‘tied down’.
The answer to this latest trend continues to be cohabitation. Whether that’s with a loved one or a group of friends, more people in the UK and beyond are choosing to shack up with no (or, at least, minimal) strings attached.
It begs the question: has the cohabitation age completely undone the timeworn notion of marriage? Do young people see less value in traditional courtship rituals because, from a pragmatic point of view, cohabitation is simply cheaper and comes with less risk?
There are, of course, pros and cons to both. Keep reading to find out how cohabitation has changed how people live and work in the modern age: a time where marriage might not be such a big deal.
Why cohabitation is better than marriage
Flexibility of modern living
There are more fledgling industries than ever before, and there are jobs that exist today that were unheard of 20 years ago. While the traditional 9-5 is still alive and kicking, the worlds of employment and career progression have developed so much that our lifestyles have followed suit. People want more options, and so living with minimal constraints is a very attractive prospect.
This is why cohabitation (particularly in the rental market) has become so popular. It not only gives couples a chance to live together before tying the knot, it also gives them the possibility of – if the relationship ends – untethering themselves without the stress of divorce.
It road tests your relationship
For many, cohabitation enables couples to test the strength of their relationship before signing on the dotted line and getting wed. Years ago, this ‘trial and error’ methodology would have been said to undermine the sanctity of marriage. Nowadays, it’s not that big a deal. It helps to see if you’re compatible!
Why marriage is better than cohabitation
Banking and other money troubles
One of the biggest advantages that married status has over living together in cohabitation is that dividing money up in the event of death is so much simpler. If a husband and wife have a joint bank account, then the money is owned jointly regardless of who deposited the money. So, if one partner dies, the whole account automatically becomes the property of the other. This also means that any debts and overdrafts held by the recently deceased will become the property of the other. Aside from that, marriage is generally a more advantageous status when it comes to money.
Let’s compare this with an unmarried couple: when an unmarried couple lives together and have separate bank accounts, neither partner has access. Even if one partner dies, any balance in their account will become property of their estate and will, most likely, be transferred to their closest family.
If an unmarried couple has a joint bank account then, as in marriage, the money will belong to both partners. An important distinction to make here is that if one partner rarely used the account (didn’t pay any money in or take any out) and the relationship ends then that partner will find it extremely difficult to claim any rights regarding that bank account.
The ‘common-law myth’ leaves many in hardship
According to research conducted by Resolution, the family justice body, two-thirds of cohabiting couples are unaware that ‘common law marriage’ is actually a myth and their rights regarding money, wills, and property are scant.
When it comes to will disputes and leaving an inheritance behind, this long-held misunderstanding leaves many bereaved partners out in the cold in what is already an incredibly stressful and sad time in their lives.
In unmarried couples, will disputes are extremely complex and in many cases can lead to family arguments and rifts within previously strong family units.
If you’re unsure – make a cohabitation agreement
In summary, there are advantages and disadvantages to both but it is increasingly clear to see why cohabitation is so popular. What you can do to make it a little safer is draw up a cohabitation agreement. Contact an experienced team of cohabitation solicitors for a full rundown of their cohabitation services.