What is a common law marriage?

Abbie Kingdon

Summer  is a prime time for weddings and the chances are that you will have been to a summer wedding at some point in the last few years. However, whilst the wedding industry is booming, the numbers of people getting married are actually in decline.

Couples are choosing to put their resources into property and property improvements, rather than spending thousands on weddings. Despite growing numbers of cohabiting couples, very few seem to have a good idea of what their rights are.

As usual, it will take the law a while to catch up with modern society. The Guardian reported that in a recent, nearly two thirds of cohabiting couples didn't realise that there is no such thing as “common law marriage” in this country. Couples who cohabit, despite som recent changes to the law, simply do not have the same legal and financial rights and protections as married couples.

Problems generally arise when a cohabiting couple separate or when one party dies. Children and women can be particularly hard hit and if there are previous spouses, who have not been divorced, the problems can be serious.

It is important that wills have been executed which take account of the fact that you are co-habiting, and that your solicitor has asked you the right questions about this. It is also important that your conveyancing solicitor dealt with property ownership issues correctly if you have bought property together.

If you are in any doubt about whether your will is up to date, we will check it for you for free.

If you are co-habiting and would like advice about how you can protect yourself and your property, contact us today for a free no obligation discussion about how we can help.