Harold G Walker

Harold G Walker Solicitors

Your Friend-In-Law for over 77 years

To marry or not to marry…



by Rob Price, Associate, Family Law Solicitor


Divorce statistics

Since 6th April 2022, the fact of no fault applies to the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. This is a good thing. The days of fruitless blame are over. We can agree that it just isn’t working out and file for divorce like proper adults.


This sensible seismic change in the law can lessen friction, for example, any unnecessary and potentially damaging ongoing relationships with your children, removal of the stigma that was once unreasonably associated by society with becoming a ‘failure’ or ‘just another statistic’, and give due recognition that life happens.


National statistics reveal that amongst heterosexual couples, only 1,000 or so more people got married in 2018 than in 1894. Factor in our significantly increased population, and you can see that marriage is not the only route.


Of those who married in 1987, 44 per cent are now divorced. Some marriages work. Some don’t.



A move to cohabiting

So, we are now left with an awful lot of couples who live together that are not only unmarried but intend to keep it that way.



Property rights

What is not publicised anywhere near enough, is the different legal rights afforded to married couples rather than cohabitees. This difference is significant. In particular, property rights. When you come to see us we can explain this, because there is not enough scope to allow for the legal  technicalities to be explained in this article. Suffice to understand that you do need to know the difference. There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’.



Cohabitee agreements

If you are considering NOT getting married but instead living together, consider coming to see us to acquire a legally binding agreement to protect your respective financial contributions to, for example, the house that you are buying together.


This is called a ‘Cohabitee Agreement’ and is a legally binding contract that you have between you prior to moving in together, or even afterwards, to show how you intend to divide everything if you decide to separate in the future.


We can even get a cohabitee separation agreement prepared which includes the intention of full and final settlement,  so neither of you can come back to the other for more, as well as solid shared care arrangements of your children.




You each MUST at least be given the opportunity to get independent legal advice before entering into the agreement. Although such agreements can be challenged in the courts after the event, it is in your interests to at least narrow the issues and achieve a level of certainty that would be absent without one.


Cohabitee agreements offer a practicality that affords peace of mind so that you can get on with your lives.



So, come and see us if this applies, because you need to know that peace.