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.

Latest News

Mixed messages from latest Family Court statistics

The Ministry of Justice has published its latest Family Court statistics for cases dealt with by the Family Courts, for the quarter October to December 2020, and the messages sent by the statistics are somewhat mixed.

Read more
We are participating in the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme – worth £500 towards the cost of family mediation

The purpose of the scheme is to promote the benefits of family mediation and to encourage families with suitable cases to mediate – rather than to take their cases to the family courts.

Read more
Research provides insight into child applications made by mothers and fathers

We wrote here last month about research carried out by The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (‘NFJO’), which carries out research with the aim of improving the family justice system, into who is going to court to resolve children disputes

Read more
The consequences of lying to the court

As everyone knows, anyone involved in court proceedings should tell the court “nothing but the truth”.  This applies not just to giving oral evidence at court hearings, but to every dealing with the court

Read more
Why it is so important to legalise an agreement

As we will see in a moment, those involved in disputes over financial arrangements on separation/divorce are constantly being implored by judges, lawyers and others to resolve the dispute by agreement. But simply reaching an agreement isn’t

Read more
The importance of confidentiality in mediation

A High Court judgment published last week both highlights and confirms the importance of confidentiality in mediation between separating couples.

Read more
Team Member Briony Phillips helps with the Exeter Bomb

World War II Exeter bomb. Over the weekend it was widely reported in the national mediator that a very large – eight-foot – World War II and unexploded bomb had been found in Exeter.

Read more
Who owns court documents?

Court proceedings can generate a vast quantity of documents. These include applications, statements and, most importantly, judgments and orders. Normally of course the court, the parties and their lawyers will access court documents

Read more
Welcome to Lisa Holden and Elle West and Julia Sacco

We are delighted to welcome solicitors Lisa Holden and Julia Sacco and Elle West to our team. This takes our legal team to 16 qualified lawyers supported by 8 trainee and future trainee lawyers and means that we are comfortably amongst the

Read more
What is matrimonial property, and why is it important?

In a recent case the Court of Appeal had to consider whether a certain asset comprised ‘matrimonial property’. But what is matrimonial property, and why is it important?

Read more
Research suggests separated parents in deprived areas more likely to use family courts

As we all know, the distribution of wealth in England is not evenly spread. Many areas of the country are poorer than others, and that certainly applies to parts of the ‘catchment area’ of Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors.

Read more
Husband not entitled to rent from wife who occupied matrimonial home

When a couple divorce the former matrimonial home can be sold. (What happens will depend on the needs of the family). If this happens, it may take some months. Until the sale is completed just one party will normally remain in occupation.

Read more