Living Together – Mythbusting the Common Law Marriage
Many people mistakenly believe that if couples live together for long enough, or after having children, they become ‘common law spouses’ and automatically develop legal responsibility to support each other financially. This is a widespread misconception. If they split up, the courts cannot divide finances or property between the two, just because it might be fair.
Parents do have financial obligations towards any children they may have, but there are no equivalent responsibilities for a partner. Partners are not entitled to financial support even if one partner – often the mother – has given up or reduced work to raise children. This means that person could be left with no financial security, without a home and with no access to pensions or savings.
Living together (or cohabiting) is becoming more common. There are 3.3m cohabiting couples in the UK – one family in five. It is the fastest growing family type. There are many reasons couples may choose not to marry, however most don’t realise that they are leaving
themselves in a precarious situation.
We’re campaigning to reform the law, but, in the meantime, it’s important to raise awareness so cohabiting families are able to protect themselves.
What protection is available?
The law doesn’t provide basic protection, so couples in this situation must take action to protect themselves and their family. There are a number of ways to do this:
• A cohabitation agreement will set out both partners’ intentions around property, finances and how they would support their children if they separate.
• If acquiring property jointly, ensure both names are on the deeds to the house, and enter into a declaration of trust if parties intend to own in unequal shares.
• Taking out life insurance and creating a will are also recommended
Free Factsheet – A Guide to Cohabitation Agreements
We have created a free guide to Cohabitation Agreements – also known as Living Together Agreements containing an overview of their benefits, what they entail and things to include:
You may also wish to take a look at our recent article on the importance of Cohabitation Agreements.
Our specialist lawyers can draft your legal document for a fixed fee
If you’d like one of our specialist family lawyers to write your Cohabitation Agreement,our fixed fee starts from £750 + VAT.