Skip to main content

Rights of cohabiting partners examined by Women and Equalities Committee

17 September 2021

Leading legal academics will give evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee in the first session of its inquiry into The Rights of Cohabiting Partners.

Purpose of the session

In this introductory session, MPs will aim to establish the legal difficulties that cohabitants currently face following separation from and death of a partner, to identify groups who are adversely affected by current law, and to explore potential opportunities for legal reform.


Other likely topics for discussion will include rights around property, provision for children, and the implications of the ‘common law marriage myth’. 


National Centre for Social Research data shows that almost half of cohabitants wrongly believe that living together acts as a guarantee of the same rights as those of a married or civil partnership couple.


The UK’s cohabiting partners represent a fifth of families in the country, with 3.5 million in the UK in 2020, up from 1.5 million in 1996.


Wednesday 22 September 2021


  • Professor Anne Barlow, Professor of Family Law and Policy at University of Exeter,
  • Professor Rebecca Probert, Professor of Law at The University of Exeter,
  • Professor Gillian Douglas, Professor of Law Emeritus Executive Dean at Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College, London, and
  • Dr Rajnaara Akhtar, Assistant Professor at University of Warwick    

Further information

Image: CC0