Cohabitation: the common law marriage myth

Cohabitation: the common law marriage myth

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of cohabiting couple families is growing faster than married couple families, up 25.8% over the last decade. With the number of cohabitating couples rising, there is an increased sense of urgency to dispel the misconception that ‘common law marriage’ exists. Many cohabitees fall victim to the idea that living together for a significant period of time will grant them the same rights as a married couple, however, this is most certainly not the case.

Cohabiting couples do not have an automatic right to share in assets that are held in their significant other’s sole name even where there are children in the family, unlike married couples. Where one party is financially dependent on the other, a cohabitee’s belief that they have a common law marriage can therefore be extremely detrimental to their financial security. Cohabitees are almost completely unprotected by the law, so individuals who choose to cohabit rather than marry can leave themselves financially vulnerable should their relationship breakdown.

Our family team at Brachers are therefore urging cohabiting parties to seek advice on their rights and to consider entering into a cohabitation agreement. This is a legally binding contract that can detail the proposed division of assets and property should parties later separate. While such an agreement may not be very romantic, they are a necessary tool that you can be sure, when drafted with the assistance of experienced solicitors, will protect you and your family in the future.

Our accomplished Family team here at Brachers can advise on and assist you in creating legal certainty for you and your family. Please contact us on 01622 690691 to book a one-hour initial appointment at a fixed fee of £150 plus VAT. 

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Rebecca Jones Solicitor

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