More and more people are deciding to live together rather than to marry.
Family law is based on the legal rights and duties which arise on marriage and people who live together without marriage do not have those rights and duties.
Marriage is the main basis of English society, but as more people live together, there has been an increase in the recognition of cohabitation as a status within society.
It is a commonly held view that to live together as a common law husband and wife confers the same rights upon those parties as living together as husband and wife, lawfully married. This is not so. In fact the phrases common law husband and common law wife have no legal meaning.