Lawyer Jo Johnson calls for changes as family law fails Britain’s growing army of unmarried couples

The number of couples choosing not to marry has more than doubled in 20 years but many are unaware of the myth of “common law marriage,” according to Staffordshire family law expert, Jo Johnson.

There are now more than 3.3 million cohabiting couples in the UK, an increase of 1.7 million from 2016.

“Should these couples separate, they have little legal protection, yet research shows that 47 per cent believe in the idea of common law marriage” said Jo Johnson of Leek.

An experienced lawyer, Jo founded her own firm in 2015. Jo also campaigns for reform of Britain’s antiquated divorce and family laws as a member of Resolution.

Their campaign centres on non-confrontational approach to family law with a strong focus on no-fault divorces.

But Jo said: “With more people than ever opting to live together, it is important that we raise awareness of the fact that current cohabitation law is failing to provide them with the rights some of them mistakenly think they have.

“Resolution is calling on the Government to introduce laws which will protect all members of these families if they separate.”

Jo, who founded Jo Johnson Family Law, in 2015, added: “Even after decades of living together, it is possible for one party to walk away without taking any responsibility for their partner’s welfare, even when children are involved.

“In reality, these couples are living in the same way as married couples, or those couples in a civil partnership. It may be that one has given up substantial earning power over several years to raise the couple’s children – yet they have no rights.”

Resolution’s Manifesto for Family Law calls for the introduction of rights for cohabiting couples if they separate.

For further information on Jo Johnson Family Law please go online to

Notes to Editors:
Statistics on cohabiting couples are compiled by the Office of National Statistics.

Research from charity One Plus One shows that that almost half (47%) of the British public believe in the myth of “common law marriage”, the notion that cohabiting couples have similar legal rights to married people.