Common Law Marriage: Myth v Reality

As the amount of co-habiting couples and blended families increases so does the misconception that cohabitation creates a “common law” marriage. In reality, simply cohabiting with a partner, does not automatically provide you with the financial protection you may require should tragedy strike.


In the event of tragedy, if no Will is available, whilst a cohabiting partner may have a claim against their late partner’s estate, as with all litigation, there is no guarantee of a successful claim. Such a claim would take into account all circumstances, including any other persons the deceased partner may be maintaining including partners and children from a previous relationship.

At a time when emotions are already running high, the last thing that a bereaved partner wishes to think about is money. A short 6 month time limit for any claims under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (IPFDA) can only seek to add to any stress the surviving partner and other family members are already suffering.

With 3.6 million couples in the UK now cohabiting compared to a total of 1.5 million in 1996, it is more important than ever for these couples to consider the importance of putting in place a Will. In these circumstances, a Will would allow the couples to not only ensure that their estate avoids the added stress and complications of intestacy, but to also ensure that their assets pass in accordance with their wishes. It would also provide the reassurance that the persons they have chosen to spend the rest of their life with, does not suffer further emotional stress on their death.

If you are cohabiting with a partner or are part of a blended family and wish to discuss how to protect your assets, not of only for your partner, but also for future generations, please contact Ann-Marie Aston, Partner at The Wilkes Partnership on 0121 733 8000 or email [email protected].

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