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Cohabitees at risk due to misguided belief in 'common law marriage' myth

View profile for Gurdip Brring
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Cohabiting couples living in the UK are misunderstanding their legal rights and clinging onto an old myth when it comes to their interpretations of the law.

According to research from Direct Line Insurance, more than a third of British cohabitees do not properly understand their legal rights.

Meanwhile, around one in ten (11 per cent) wrongly believe that they would automatically inherit a jointly-owned property if their common law partner passed away – or that they would presumably have a right to claim a share in the property in the event of a split.

The research worryingly suggests that cohabiting couples still believe in the myth of ‘common law marriage’, whereby cohabitees are granted a certain level of rights after they have been living together for a number of years.

In actuality, there is no such thing as common law marriage in England and Wales – meaning that cohabiting couples are effectively not recognised as being a couple at all in the eyes of the law.

This means that cohabiting couples are woefully unprotected in the event of an unexpected relationship breakdown or death, unless they have sought specialise legal advice to draw up water-tight Wills, or a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is a legally-binding document which can be drawn up by an unmarried couple in order to determine what will happen to any property, finances or otherwise in the event of a separation.

MFG Solicitors’ family team can assist in the preparation of a legally-binding cohabitation agreement. Our experts also advise on divorce, separation and all other aspects of family law. For more information about how we could help you, please contact us.