The recently published “British Social Attitudes Survey”, carried out by The National Centre for Social Research, revealed that 46 per cent of people in the UK believe that cohabiting couples form a “common law marriage”. The study was commissioned by the University of Exeter and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
Interestingly, despite more couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry and despite the significant amount of publicity surrounding cohabitees’ legal rights and responsibilities towards each other, the research shows that the public’s understanding of this key issue is pretty much unchanged since 2005 (in that year 47 per cent of people believed that common law marriage existed).
The results also show that people are significantly more likely to believe in common law marriage when children are born into the relationship. . Fifty-five per cent of households with children think that common law marriage exists whereas only 41 per cent of households without any children do so.
Common Law Marriage does not exist. If you and your partner are thinking about moving in together, or even if you are already living together, you might want to consider making a Cohabitation Agreement. A Cohabitation Agreement can cover how you will share the rent or mortgage and bills between you and how to deal with any bank accounts, property or assets if you separate. A Cohabitation Agreement helps to agree things fairly, without the emotional pressure which can arise when a relationship breaks down. It can also help to avoid unnecessary stress and costly disputes in the future.