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Do you believe in Common Law marriage?

Do you believe in Common Law marriage?

Common Law marriage is a myth.

It does not exist!

Findings from this year’s British Social Attitudes Survey[i][i] shows that nearly half of us think common law marriage exists.

Common Law marriage refers to couple who live together having the same legal rights as a married couple.

Samantha Lee, head of Family Law at Swain & Co Solicitors, says,

“This is a very worrying trend. Cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same legal rights as those who are married. Common Law marriage is a myth.”

The concerning beliefs continue, as people who have children believe this myth more than those that don’t.

Samantha continues,

“Cohabiting offers no legal protection that is afforded to married couples. As this is the quickest growing household in England and Wales, it can be a costly mistake to make. Our views to marriage as a society is changing. Unfortunately, policy and law fail to keep up.”

Often the vulnerable party faces financial hardship in the event of relationship breakdown. This includes where one of the party has taken a career break to raise children. Career breaks can have a lasting impact.

Therefore, it is essential that awareness is raised about marriage, civil partnerships and cohabiting, and highlight the differences.

Cohabitation agreements do exist.

They are as romantic as pre-nups! However, an agreement that has been properly negotiated could prove precious to the more vulnerable party. It could save much uncertainty and legal costs in the event of a separation.

Things such as ownership and occupation of the family home can be agreed upon.


Samantha Lee is Managing Director of Swain & Co Solicitors and specialises in Family Law, Divorce and Separation.

The Family law team offer free initial advice to discuss your options. So call us on 02392 483322 or fill in our enquiry form and we will call you back.

[ii][i] The survey was ordered by University of Exeter, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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