Family law expert Kathryn Hicklin of QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank said too few people are unaware that they have limited legal protection if their relationship fails.

“The law has to change to reflect that co-habiting family couples are the fastest growing family type in the country,” said Ms Hicklin, whose firm are based in Coalville and Hinckley.

Figures published in recent weeks by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that cohabiting couple families in the United Kingdom have reached 3.2 million, an increase of 29.7% in the past 10 years alone.

“It is alarming to know that it possible to live under the same roof as someone for many years and even to have a family together and then leave without taking any responsibility for a former partner if the relationship breaks down,” she said.

“This can cause utter turmoil in lives, particularly in cases where one of the couple has given up or reduced their work to raise a family,” she warned.

She added that QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank supported debates in the legal profession to change the law.

“Co-habitation is a trend that will continue to prove popular and we see the damage caused in lives by the law’s inability to keep up with the times,” added Ms Hicklin.

“Also, what is worrying is so many people believe they have rights under the law and this is not the case,” she added.

“People need to seek advice as to protect themselves in the event of a breakdown of relationship,” she added.

She said that those going through a breakdown are best to see experts well versed in dealing with such matters.

“Only by seeing a trusted local solicitor and obtaining sound advice about the best way to part as painlessly as possible, can move on quickly and rebuild their lives,” she added.

Anybody wishing to speak to QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank about relationship issues or any other legal matters can do so by calling 01530 510666.