"Twice Shy" Over 40's Moving Towards Cohabitation?

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Living with a partner outside of marriage for people in their 40's has jumped by more than 70% in the last decade – also, those not living with their partner has increased.

Co-habitation

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has pointed out that this increase corresponds with the age at which divorce is most prevalent.

Cohabitation Rising Sharply


Family lawyers in the UK are putting an increase in cohabitation down to a "one bitten, twice shy" mentality developed by some over 40’s whose marriages may have ended on bad terms. Cohabitation has been rising sharply over the years with the number of married couples being in the minority for the first time.

Other comparisons were made by the ONS between religious observances, cohabitation, location and marital status. The study found that those who lived in a seaside town such as Blackpool, Hastings and Torbay were at the top of the list for the highest concentration of divorcees in England & Wales.

Overall, the number of people cohabiting only increased by a third however, between the ages of 40 and 49, cohabitation leapt to 1.1 million from just 649,000.

Consider Independent Legal Advice


With the marked increase in cohabitation, now, more than ever, it is important to consider a cohabitation agreement if you are thinking of living with your partner.

In the case of the 40's and over, they may have already been through a harsh divorce. Cohabitation agreements often begin with a financial motivation. You may have come out of a marriage that ended badly or you may wish for your children to benefit from your assets when you pass away rather than your new partner.

A cohabitation agreement can ensure that this happens especially if you do not wish to remarry.


Like the current position of prenuptial agreements or ‘prenups’, cohabitation agreements are not legally binding in England and Wales. However, they are the best way to evidence your intentions if a legal dispute was to arise in the future.

To ensure the proper weight is given to your decisions in the prenup, it is best to seek independent legal advice from a family solicitor. Prenups along with cohabitation agreements sometimes come with bad recommendations of being "unromantic" and an example of people "planning for the end".

For those that have been through a rough break up and it has left them financially shaken, either of these agreements are recommended before entering into another relationship. Not just for security when it comes to finances but peace of mind for the future.


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