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FINANCES ON SEPARATION (Cohabitants/Not Married/Common Law)

Common Law Marriage or Cohabitation. Two phrases often used. One exists and one does not. Most people believe in the one that does not.

Common Law Marriages do not exist. When people talk of Common Law Marriages they often really mean cohabitation i.e. they have been in a long standing relationship with someone living as if they were married, probably under the same roof, but had never gone through the formal process of getting married. They may even have children together. Whilst the relationship is working there is very little difference between cohabitation or marriage in terms of how the law views property. Unfortunately, on a relationship breakdown the difference between cohabitation and marriage becomes very VERY different.

The 'remedies' (i.e. what the Courts can do) are different. Upon a marriage breakdown the Court can look at everything both sides own and divide it according to what is fair taking into consideration all the circumstances including considerations about any children. When a relationship between people who are not married (cohabitants) comes to an end (even if it ends through the death of one of them) there is no similar consideration of what both people own and what is fair. People who cohabit are often unaware of how vulnerable their position is upon a relationship breakdown until it happens. The fact that there may be children does not untie the Court's hands.

Click on the links below to see how cohabitation affects the remedies available.



Common Law Marriages do not exist. The wide options available to a Court under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 when considering the property of a married couple therefore offer no assistance to a...

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