Some individuals are under the preconceived notion that common law marriage exists – it does not. You are either married, civil partners or cohabiting.

Young couple is enjoying in living room.

Some individuals are under the mistaken apprehension that common law marriage exists – it does not. If you live in a relationship with someone else, then you are either married, civil partners or cohabiting.

Common Law marriage is a creature of fiction – it does not exist in the real world.

If you live with your partner, purchase a property together or have children, the law does not offer automatic protection as it does with married or civil partner couples.

The mere fact of living together gives neither party any rights against the other, though the particular history of the relationship may do so, not always in the way that the parties expect! This can inevitably leave one party exposed and at a disadvantage. For example, claims could be brought against the other party who has a property in their sole name in which the parties have been living. Complications can arise as to what one party has promised the other during the course of the relationship.

If you are thinking about living together, it is important to be clear from the very outset what your rights are, and what you want to happen if the relationship breaks down or if one of you dies.

As a means of protection, you may want to consider entering into a ‘cohabitation agreement’ (also known as a ‘living together agreement’), which would set out in clear terms the financial and domestic arrangements between the parties thereby avoiding confusion and bitterness should you later separate.

If you have already entered into a cohabitation agreement and your relationship breaks down, you should seek immediate advice from our family law team without delay if you encounter problems in implementing the terms of the agreement. We may need to consider enforcement methods with you as a last resort if your partner reneges upon the agreement.

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