What is a common law marriage?

    What is a common law marriage?

    Common law marriage is fake news

    A ‘common law marriage’ does not exist. It is a myth, a figment of the imagination, a fiction, a nonsense: it does not exist.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING as a common law marriage.

    It doesn’t matter whether you have lived with your partner for 2 years, 12 years or 20 years. If you were not married in a church, register office or other public place registered for marriages, or have entered into a civil partnership with your partner, you are NOT married.

    None of the financial remedies one spouse has against the other will apply to your situation.

    What if you have children?

    Again, it doesn’t matter whether you have 2 children, 12 children or 20 children. You might have given up your job and career to look after them. If you are not married, you are not married and that is that.

    All you can do if your partner has an income is to ask the child maintenance service to raise an assessment so that your partner contributes toward the cost of bringing them up.

    Cohabiting vs marriage: 5 rights you don’t have without marriage

    • Unless you are on the title of any property that you own with your partner, you cannot share in the proceeds if it is sold.
    • You cannot ask for maintenance to help look after you.
    • You cannot ask for a lump sum to help you be rehoused or to ‘tide you over’.
    • You cannot ask to share in your partner’s wealth at all. Full stop.
    • Nor can you ask any court to make an order that your partner’s pension should be shared with you.

    You may think, just as 27% of the adult population in Britain do, that after two years of living together you have exactly the same rights as if you had gone through the marriage ceremony but you do not.

    It may not feel right, it may not feel fair but there is no such thing as a common law marriage. You have none of the rights or remedies as a cohabiting person that you most certainly have if you are a married person.

    Our Family lawyers can advise cohabitees as to how to best protect their legal position, including drawing up cohabitation agreements and advising how property should be owned.

    For more information, please contact our Family team who would be happy to advise you.

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