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The Common Law Marriage Myth

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Saturday 18 August was reported as the most popular day in 2018 to get married in the UK. However, since the early 1970s, the number of people getting married each year has steadily decreased, dropping a further 3.4% last year. There are many theories about why marriage rates are falling, but the fact remains that fewer people are formalising their relationship.

Cohabitation is officially the fastest growing family type, more than doubling from 1.5million couples just 20 years ago. Yet, a 2017 survey showed that only one cohabiting couple in three knew there was no such thing as common law marriage.

Many people mistakenly believe that if couples live together for long enough, or after having a child together, they become ‘common law spouses’ and automatically obtain legal rights to be financially supported.  This is incorrect.  In England and Wales there is no legal status given to people just because they live together.

Cohabiting couples need to take steps to protect themselves and their families.

If an unmarried couple breaks up, they would not necessarily be entitled to share in (what they thought were their) joint assets, such as the house they live in, regardless of how long they have been together, or whether they have children.

Cohabiting couples need to know that they are not given rights through so called common law marriage. They need to take steps to protect themselves. Signing a Cohabitation Agreement is an easy and cost effective way to obtain financial peace of mind, without getting married or forming a civil partnership.

At Bell Lax we can assist you in considering whether a Cohabitation Agreement is suitable for you. Please give Sandra Hickson or Jeet Panesar a call on 0121 355 0011 if you would like to discuss this further.

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