Key Things To Understand About Common Law Marriage

When we think of ourselves as being in a relationship, a loving and long term one, it is often very easy to see ourselves as being married. Being with the same person for so long, we get to know them on a deep emotional level, and without going down the aisle we still feel committed and bonded to them.

Having that kind of connection is brilliant, in every sense, and easy to forget sometimes that the rest of the world may not see your relationship in the same way. The law in particular can be confusing here. Lots of people, for example, believe in common law marriage.

What is common law marriage

A law firm specialising in family law services will be able to give you a fuller explanation, but here are the ‘highlights’. Although many people believe common law marriage to be a ‘thing’, it doesn’t actually exist. In England and Wales, for instance, only those couples who are married (regardless of sex) can depend upon the law for certain things.

If a relationship breaks down, fingers crossed it never happens, laws regarding finances only apply to married couples.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

There is also the misconception that having children together confers some legal rights over a relationship. Again, this is not the case. While there are ways to make ‘arrangements’ for the financial welfare of the child, similar rights do not exist for the couple themselves. Such rights only exist if they are married.

It is important that these things be kept in mind, since recent years has seen a decrease in marriages in England because people prefer to cohabit instead. Obviously, if it works for you then go for it but you do need to be aware of certain things like this.

Your rights should the unthinkable happen

There is no maintenance guarantee if a relationship does not work out, unless of course you were married. Even if you had to stay home and look after the children, instead of working, there is no legal obligation. This is not the same as child maintenance, however, which would still need to be paid.

If you were renting a property together, at the time of the split, you have legal right to stay there if they leave or if they ask you to leave. This applies only if your name was on the rental agreement, in which case there are rights you can exercise.

Splitting finances

Savings and possessions are also not shared when a relationship ends, regardless of how long you were together. If there are children involved then there may be lump sum orders.

If you do not wish to be wed, there are always legally binding contracts that could be entered into with your partner – should anything happen later down the line. But, if you are prepared to do that then why not just get married anyway?

Hopefully none of this will ever apply to you, at any stage of your life. Knowledge is power, as they say and forewarned is forearmed. Making time for each other is one sure way to keep relationships alive and kicking so why not check out our other posts for inspiration?

Here’s to you both, and long may you stay happy, healthy and together.



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