Common Law Husband And Common Law Wife
There is no such thing as a Common Law Husband or Common Law Wife in English law. Couples who chose to live together without getting married do so without the benefit of matrimonial legislation and there is no notion of fairness or reasonableness built into the law. The rules that apply to determine the division of assets are exactly the same rules that would apply to two strangers happening to live under the same roof.
The Myths Of Cohabitation
– Unmarried couples living together for a period of time acquire the same rights as married couples – THEY DO NOT
– A cohabiting partner can claim maintenance from their partner if the relationship breaks down – THEY CANNOT (no matter how long they have lived together)
– An unmarried partner’s name is not on the mortgage but she can claim an interest in the property because she has paid the utility and food bills for years and has decorated the house and paid for the carpets – SHE CANNOT (such payments are irrelevant)
– An unmarried partner will automatically inherit the estate if their partner dies, so a will is unnecessary – THEY WILL NOT
– Unmarried fathers have the same rights towards their children that unmarried mothers have – FREQUENTLY THEY DO NOT
What Can I Do?
Unmarried cohabitation is on the increase, as is relationship breakdown. Couples should properly record the shares in which the property is owned, nominate beneficiaries under pension policies and life assurance policies and make a will, especially if they have children.
Draw up a COHABITATION AGREEMENT. They have yet to be fully tested in court but provide useful evidence of a common intention.
Or… you could get married!