Latest figures reveal marriage rates fall as couples opt to cohabit instead

Latest figures reveal marriage rates fall as couples opt to cohabit instead

Recent data published from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of opposite-sex marriages had fallen by 47% since 1972 whilst cohabiting couple families continue to be the fastest-growing family type.

It is notable that same-sex couples are in fact bucking this trend as the number of married same-sex couples has doubled since 2017. 

Despite this surge in marriages amongst same-sex couples, the overall share of married couple families (for opposite-sex and same-sex couples) has declined over the past decade.

The ONS commented that the long-term decline in the rate of marriages was likely to be as a result of more men and women delaying marriage or couples choosing to cohabit instead.

With the number of couples opting to just live together increasing, it is important to raise awareness of the fact that unmarried couples do not have as much protection compared to married couples.  This means many people, to their surprise, could be left financially vulnerable if their relationship ends.

However all is not lost! Whilst we wait patiently for the current law to be reformed, a cohabitation agreement, also known as living together agreement, can be a great option.

This type of relationship agreement can set out how couples wish to arrange their financial affairs and responsibilities during and after their relationship.  It provides couples with certainty as to where they will stand financially in the unfortunate event of their relationship ending in the future. 

If you would like to discuss putting a cohabitation agreement in place or if you have any other queries about the issues covered in this article please do not hesitate to contact the team – we would be happy to help.


Are you a parent ‘Home Alone’ during Covid19?

Are you a parent ‘Home Alone’ during Covid19?

In light of the uncertainty surrounding how COVID-19 is going to affect family lives, we understand that separated parents are going to be feeling anxious about seeing their children if they are separated due to illness or lockdown. During this uncertain time, it is even more important to sustain some sort of normality and consistency for children, and to minimise yours and their anxiety.  So we have been looking into the online tools available to enable you to spend quality time with your children even if they cannot spend time in your home. It’s amazing that modern technology allows families to be instantly contactable and available anywhere to each other even if they are not together in the same home. We know this may not be the preferred way to be in contact with your child, but we hope you see that it could be a very good alternative to direct contact, whilst we get through these extraordinary times. 

Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp allow for visual contact and chatting. There is no cost as the connection is via Wi-Fi, and there is no limit on the length of the call.

You can text via Skype and WhatsApp and they also allow photos and data to be shared at no cost allowing parent and child to update each other regularly.

Zoom is a free online app which enables you to chat face to face time with your child and much more. .

Zoom can be used in any location as it is accessed from your desktop, or mobile phone,  as long as you have a Wi-Fi or data connection.  With Zoom there are various price plans. The no cost plans allows you to set up a meeting to chat with your child for up to 40 minutes (there is talk of Zoom extending this to one hour!). The number of meetings you can set up are unlimited. If you want to zoom for longer than 40 minutes you can purchase a licence to allow for unlimited calls.  When you see the things you can do below you may well want to invest in a price plan.  Even with the no cost plan you can screen share. This tool allows you to share your computer screen remotely with your child allowing them to see what is on your screen, as well as see each other at the same time, so not losing that valuable face to face contact with your child.  

Here’s a list of activities you can do with your child through Zoom:

  • Read bedtime stories as you can read downloaded books together.
  • Watch movies together via portals such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or through your CD-ROM.
  • Help your child with school work
  • Share documents together so that you can write stories
  • Watch TV channels such as BBC iPlayer through the screen share and catch up on programmes such as CBeebies.
  • Play games
  • Use apps on your desktop or phone such as “Paint” and draw with your children and play “hangman” etc.

And of course there is the good old fashioned telephone via a land line.

It is important to remember that this is just general ideas and tips. There may be reasons in every case why some or all of the above may not be appropriate and the above  article should not be construed as advice.

And finally!  FM Family Law has no affiliation with Whatsapp Skype, Apple or with Zoom. We just think they are great tools at this time. #notanAd

Laura Tuddenham

FM Family Law

19 March 2020

Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

Are your children travelling abroad with your ex?

It can often take a lot of trust and courage to come to terms with the children’s first trip abroad. You may have fears that your ex has not cared for them for that length of time before, that they may not return from the trip, or that your child is too young to travel without you. These are common concerns.

Here are some tips from Relate about how to manage the emotions surrounding travel, as well as the practical side of proceedings.


Managing difficult feelings

  1. Try to remember how you managed difficult feelings when you first separated and draw on the same strengths.
  2. List your concerns – both practical and emotional ones. Sort out what feels most important to think about or act upon first.
  3. Without involving your child in discussions, try thinking about the trip from your child’s point of view. How might they feel if they miss out on an opportunity?
  4. Ask your ex to share any plans they have for the trip abroad, explaining that doing so will reassure you.
  5. Talk through how you feel about the trip with a friend or family member.

Practical Considerations

If you give permission it is very important to do the following:

  1. Ask for contact details for example, telephone number and address abroad and details of who else is joining them on holiday.
  2. Make sure your ex has contact details for the children’s doctor in the case of a medical emergency.
  3. Check your ex has travel and medical insurance that covers your child.
  4. Allow your child to e-mail/text/telephone you if they would like to.

Fiona also advises her clients going on holiday with their children to send a text to the other party to let them know of the children’s safe arrival once they’ve reached their destination. It takes little time and can be of significant goodwill and reassurance to the parent left back home alone.


Taking the kids abroad: Part 1

Taking the kids abroad: Part 1

Travelling overseas with your kids is logistically challenging – and more than a little exhausting – at the best of times. At the worst of times, the administrative burden can result in a check in-desk disaster and a cancelled trip. If you’re part of a blended family, in which one or both parents have different surnames to their children, this can only add to what is already a particularly stressful time.

Here are our top tips to sail through passport control this Easter…

1. Check the Expiry Dates!

Ensure your kids’ passports have at least 6 months left until expiry. Some destinations allow travel with less than 6 months, but many don’t. On a trip of a lifetime to Kenya, one family was turned around at Gatwick. After a couple of days their passports were renewed, but the knock-on expenses as well as stress levels were extremely high!

2. Separated or travelling solo? You need parental permission.

Most parents don’t know it’s a criminal offence to take your child abroad without the consent of anyone who also has parental responsibility (PR) for the child. Not all parents have PR but most probably do. If you are divorced, separated or just travelling without your spouse, even going to Edinburgh would be classified as an offence without the consent of the other parent. You’ll need to take a signed letter of consent from the child’s other parent in order to travel, as well as…

3. Birth Certificates!

Yes we know that carrying these around can be a real pain, particularly for parents with blended families. However the Home Office recommends you carry a child’s birth certificate so that you can prove you are the parent.  In fact, South Africa has made child birth certificates a mandatory document for entry. In recent years UK Passport Control have become increasingly vigilant about checking parental authenticity to prevent child trafficking. This is little comfort to one respondent to our travel poll:

‘This happened to me. It was not helped by the children’s’ blank faces when asked what relationship they were to me! I made sure I flew with a letter from their father after that.’

– Fiona H.

Of course these days it is entirely usual for parents not to share a name with their spouse partner or their children. It may be the 21stcentury, but after a long flight these interactions are still commonplace:

‘I was quizzed coming back into Heathrow after an 11 hour flight with three kids. Passport Control asked me to quickly rattle off the dates of birth of all my kids, then gave me a stern talking to about travelling with a different name to my children’

– Lisa D.

We can all be forgiven for muddling up dates and mislaying paperwork after a long haul flight with the kids. That’s why Fiona McLeman suggests:

4. Screenshot Documents on your Phone

A handy shortcut for breezing through passport control. The official advice is to carry the originals or certified copies, however if all your other documentation is in order, a birth certificate photo may well suffice.

5. Get multiple copies certified

Instead of carrying the precious originals, you can ask a solicitor to arrange certified copies for you at a minimal charge. Everyone with PR should have certified copies for each child, and then the originals can be safely stored away at home.

Coming next: Are your kids travelling abroad with your ex? How to manage difficult feelings, and practical considerations.