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When unmarried couples, living together, split up, the most common issues which arise relate to occupation and ownership of the family home, residence and contact arrangements regarding the children, and the parents’ financial obligations and responsibilities towards the children. As there is no single piece of legislation which deals with relationship breakdown, it can be very confusing for people to know, and understand, their rights and responsibilities.
The number of unmarried couples living together has dramatically increased in recent years however it is still a common public misconception that those couples have the same rights as married couples. They do not. Parliament has expressed concerns about the lack of remedies cohabiting couples have available on the breakdown of a relationship and asked the Law Commission to review the law in this area and to suggest possible reforms. In July 2007 the Law Commission published its report, ‘Cohabitation: The Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown’, which proposes a scheme to provide remedies for eligible couples. This may or may not become law one day, but for now, the situation remains as it always was.