Common Law Marriage – is it all a myth?


Common Law Marriage – is it all a myth?

We all hope that love will last forever, whether we are married or not, but what happens if it doesn’t?  Many people believe that being in a long term relationship means you are in a ‘common law marriage’ and that you have the same rights as if you were married.  This is NOT TRUE in England & Wales – living together does not give you the same rights as being husband and wife.

Unlike when you divorce, if you separate you do not have the right to claim for financial support from your ex.  It is therefore important to think about how you can protect yourself if your relationship were to breakdown.  You could consider a Cohabitation Agreement which needs to be agreed with your partner.  The agreement would outline how you would divide any money and property if you were to split up.  If you own a property together you should also declare how you own the property to the Land Registry and whether the property is owned in equal shares.

You should also consider what would happen if your partner died without making a Will.  There could be uncertainty as to whether you would receive anything from their estate.  It is essential that you both make a Will to avoid the stress of having to deal with these issues during an already emotional time.

If you require family legal advice, or wish to make a Will, contact Bookers & Bolton on 01420 82881/88903 or email our Head of Family, Hannah Anderson at or Head of Private Client, Matthew Porter at

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