The myth of the common law marriage
By Philip Way
Couples who are neither married nor in a civil partnership often believe that they have the same rights as married people. There is a widespread belief in the concept of ‘common law marriage’, which couples think will protect them when they buy property together. There is also an assumption that the law provides a ‘fair’ financial remedy if a cohabiting relationship breaks down. These beliefs are incorrect.
Common law marriage does not exist and couples do not have the same rights as married people, nor do the courts have powers to reallocate assets (as they can on divorce) even if a property is involved. Couples must therefore carefully consider and appropriately document their intentions regarding the sale proceeds of a home in which they cohabit.
The information below explains the ways in which a cohabiting couple’s property ownership may be determined following relationship breakdown…
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