Cohabiting and Common Law Marriage
The Myth of Common Law Marriage
Half of the population thinks that Common Law marriage exists according to social attitude surveys which are published annually. It is a dangerous misconception.
In this podcast interview by Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller with Collaborative Lawyer Kim Beatson of Anthony Gold Solicitors, Kim explains the harsh reality of not getting married when having a family – if you are to later split up.
“There is no such thing as a Common Law wife and cohabiting couples can be extremely vulnerable on separation because many people cohabit without realising the legal implications.
As the law stands, arguments about whether a cohabitant has an interest in property are expensive and protracted. In the absence of direct financial contributions to the purchase price, it is very difficult to secure a remedy and the only safe way forward is for cohabitants to ensure that both names are on the title deeds to any property and that the position on contributions is documented.
These difficulties were recognised by the Law Commission in its 2007 Report which recommended a new law which would give financial rights for unmarried couples with children who had been together for a suggested 2-5 years.
The government has just announced that it has no intention of granting these new legal rights despite the recommendations of the law reform watch-dog. Presumably this is because the issue remains politically sensitive and critics fear that this long awaited change would undermine the institution of marriage.
The government’s decision is both disappointing and frustrating. Marriage rates have fallen to an all time low and there is a rise in the number of people cohabiting year on year.
Children born to unmarried couples who separate can be vulnerable and the need for law reform is long overdue. The government’s refusal to act is all the more illogical as cohabiting couples who separate often find themselves dependant on the state for help with housing and other living expenses.”
If you would like to find out more about how to divorce amicably, please contact Kim Beatson by phone for a no-obligation conversation on 020 7940 4011 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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