A recent decision in the Supreme Court highlights that there is no such thing as “common law marriage” in the UK. Many cohabiting couples are under living under a misunderstanding that they have similar rights to married couples, especially if they have been together for a number of years or have children together, but this is not the case.
Cohabiting couples are the UK’s fastest growing family type, according to the Office of National Statistics cohabiting couples have more than doubled from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3million in 2017. However, the law treats cohabiting couples very differently from married couples, and many cohabiting couples are not even aware of this risk.
Last week the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Siobhan McLaughlin, an unmarried mother of four who had been refused access to Widowed Parent’s Allowance following her partner’s death in 2014 on the basis that they were not married. Although this is a step in the right direction, the court justified this decision on the basis that there were dependent children and it would not therefore assist unmarried couples who are not parents, and it related to a specific benefit which has in fact now been phased out.
The best way of obtaining protection in the event of separation or death is therefore to take action now, and not rely on the myth of the common law spouse. Steps can be taken now to ensure you and your family are fully protected in the event of your relationship ending. Contact our experts for a free initial consultation.