Living Together?
Are you entitled to anything from the property?

It has long been a social expression to describe two people living together who are not married, but contrary to popular belief the old term common-law man and wife now better known as Common-Law Marriage has no legal usage under English law.

Common Law Marriage

Many people believe that just because they have lived with their partner for some time they automatically acquire rights under the law, however only people who are married or those in civil partnerships can rely on the law when it comes to divorce or dissolve of their marriage. It is therefore important to consider all the circumstances carefully, particularly in connection with the owning of property.

When two married people separate, the courts have considerable discretion to adjust property rights, however the law that applies to divorcing couples does not apply when two unmarried people separate and it does not matter how long they have been together for. For example, upon separation one person may discover that he or she is not entitled to share the proceeds of sale of the property they have lived in, no matter the length of the relationship. There have been many expensive court cases involving disputes between separating unmarried couples over property rights.

Alex Cartledge, Solicitor & Director at Murray Hills Solicitors says

“When in a loving relationship it can be very difficult to look beyond this to your legal rights should the relationship break down, and often by this point it is too late. In my daily work I deal with many people who did not realise that the term common law marriage has no actual legal bearing, and are shocked by what this means to them now their relationship has ended”



You may be reading this thinking that it does not apply to you, as you and your partner are very much in love and separation is the furthest thing from your mind, to you, we firstly say congratulations, but we also advise that it is not just unmarried couples separating that are affected by the common law marriage misconception. An unmarried partner does not automatically benefit should the other partner die without making a Will naming them as beneficiary. This can come as a great shock to some people and lead to stress, heartache and worry at an already difficult time. If you are living together and have property or other assets it is important that you check your rights.

Alex added

“Here at Murray Hills we want to remind people that this commonly used term is just that, a phrase people say, and that they really do need to think about the future. We can help, and I offer a free half an hour consultation to discuss your rights. There are various reasons people may not want to or be unable to get married but we can help you and your partner set in place what you may need for the future”


With branch offices in Bridlington and Hull there has never been a more perfect time to contact Murray Hills Solicitors for your free appointment.

Call today on 01262 672249.

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