Bridget Garrood – Senior Consultant Solicitor – Divorce/ Finance/ LGBT+ Specialist

Common Law Husbands and Wives

From a legal point of view living together is very different from being married.

When a legal marriage ends, the court is able to make decisions to ensure that there are fair arrangements for assets/savings/pensions/properties and for income (including the payment of maintenance).

There is a lot about divorce on this website.

The legal position of those who live together outside of legal marriage is very different. Those who live together outside of marriage (Cohabitants) can still refer to themselves being common-law husbands and wives. This is not a legal status.

When cohabitants separate – the law can be very harsh when deciding what obligations one can have to the other.

If a couple are planning to live together outside of legal marriage then we would strongly urge both to take legal advice.

This is particularly the case if the couple plan to buy a house together or to have children together or they intend to rely on the future pension prospects of one of the couple from both – or if one wishes to rely in any way on the possibility that the other would provide them with financial assistance in the future including if they separate.

Over the years we have seen individuals getting into all sorts of difficulty by not taking legal advice prior to cohabitation and not taking necessary steps to protect themselves.

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