Millions at Risk Financially Due to Misunderstanding of Common-Law Marriage

Published: 5th December 2017

Millions of people in the UK are at risk of losing out on finances due to the current legal system and the general misconception surrounding 'common-law marriages'. Couples that are unmarried but living together, otherwise known as cohabiting couples, are one of the fastest growing family types in the UK, and yet many of them do not understand their legal rights in the event of their relationship coming to an end.

Cohabiting Couple Poll

A recent poll, conducted by nationwide family law organisation Resolution, found that approximately two thirds of people currently in cohabiting relationships believe that common-law marriage is in place in the UK and that this affords them certain legal rights. In addition, 80% of those in cohabiting relationships agree that if they were to separate from their partner they would be unsure about their legal rights.

Four in five respondents believe that cohabiting couples should be entitled to more legal rights following separation. Also, more than 80% feel that those in cohabiting relationships should be made more aware of their rights and the fact they are not protected in the same way as married couples. This would involve the Government taking steps to increase the awareness about the legal status of this family type.

The results of the poll show that people throughout the UK are still under the impression that common-law marriage will protect them if their relationship comes to an end. As this is not the case, millions of people are still unaware of their rights and could be at risk financially, particularly as their lack of knowledge about the situation would encourage them to do nothing in the way of protecting their future.

Current Laws for Cohabiting Couples

Industry experts, the general public and top UK politicians all seem to be in agreement regarding cohabitation laws, with the general consensus being that the laws and rights surrounding this family type do not reflect the state of modern society. Currently, people in a cohabiting couple can go for most of their lives in a relationship with their partner and have children together, yet should they separate, there are no provisions in place that will provide support to the weaker financial party.

Influential figures and organisations, such as Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, Lord Hope of Craighead, the Family Law Bare Association, the Law Society and many others, have supported the call for certain rights to be applied to those in a cohabiting relationship.

Cases where the woman has given up her job to take up the role of house wife and had no protection when separating from their partner are all too common, leading to many women becoming extremely vulnerable and with nowhere to turn. They may go through lengthy and expensive processes to challenge this, but even then they may not be entitled to anything.

If you are unmarried and living with your partner and you are concerned about your legal position and rights then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team are experienced in drawing up cohabitation agreements which are designed to help protect you and your family should the worst happen.

For more information or to arrange a free 45-minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield) or 01235 375500 (Abingdon).

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