The myth of common law marriage

The idea that living together for a certain length of time creates legal rights and obligations between partners is as persistent as it is untrue. Common law marriage and common law spouses simply do not exist.  Many people are surprised that, after lengthy cohabitation, there is no legal obligation for one partner to provide any sort of financial assistance to the other following the breakdown of the relationship.

Where there are children, child maintenance is payable. Whilst it is possible to make applications to court for financial provision for children in certain circumstances, success is far from certain and, even if successful, any financial assistance would be for the benefit of the child and not the parent.

However, living together can create an interest in a property, even if it is owned in the sole name of one partner. Financial contributions and loving words such as, “this is your home as much as mine,” can form the basis of a property claim leading to lengthy and expensive litigation.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement and how does it work?

Everyone living with their partner should consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.  These agreements can clarify a wide range of issues, both during the cohabitation and in the event of separation.  Partners can decide how the bills will be shared whilst together and how finances will be dealt with if they separate.

Whilst the law does not automatically provide for financial support between separating cohabitants, a Cohabitation Agreement allows partners to agree ongoing financial support if they wish.

If you would like further advice on Cohabitation Agreements, moving in with your partner or separating please call 0121 451 1661 to arrange a free initial appointment. Or contact us.