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What is a Common Law Marriage?
The number of people choosing to live together (cohabiting) rather than get married is becoming more popular. As of November 2019, there were 3.5 million* cohabiting couples in the UK and this number is only going to rise.
Family Solicitor, Elizabeth Dowler dispels some of the long standing myths that surround the concept of cohabitation and the ‘common law marriage’
Myth: Unmarried couples who live together benefit from a ‘common law marriage’.
Truth: There is no such thing as a “common law marriage”, irrespective of how long an unmarried couple have lived together.
Myth: After living together for more than two years, unmarried couples have similar rights to married couples if a relationship breakdown.
Truth: Unmarried couples do not have the same or similar rights as married couples do. Married couples have automatic financial claims, whereas cohabiting couples do not; this is regardless of the duration of their relationship and if it ends or one party dies.
The current law regarding cohabitation is out of date and fails to provide any real protection for cohabiting couples. It takes no account of changing family structures and so irrespective of whether cohabitants have made career or financial sacrifices to have children there is very limited protection to ensure they are not disadvantaged.
Examples of where cohabitants are disadvantaged in circumstances where a married spouse would have protection include:
- Financial claims upon relation breakdown: married couples have an automatic right, cohabiting couples do not.
- Entitlement to partner’s assets under intestacy rules upon death: married couples have an automatic entitlement to inherit, cohabiting couples do not.
- Tax exemptions for Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax: married couples have access to tax exemptions on the transfer of assets in a range of situations, cohabiting couples do not.
- Obtaining a survivor’s pension: there is no requirement of nomination for married couples, however there is an absolute requirement of nomination for cohabiting couples.
Steps to take
Whilst cohabitants are not provided automatic, full protection by the current laws, there are steps that can be taken to safeguard the position. These can include:
- Cohabitation Agreement. Covering matters relating to property, finances and children this document sets out certain agreements and intentions to be relied upon both during the relationship, and upon relationship breakdown to provide ongoing security to both parties
- Deed of Trust. Where cohabitants own joint property, a deed of trust can provide protection to parties who have contributed more into the purchase of a property.
- Will. Cohabitants do not automatically inherit some or all of their partner’s estate upon death, where there is no Will present. To ensure that their partner inherits upon their death a Will needs to be put in place to confirm this.
Where the cohabitants have children together, financial claims can also be brought for the benefit of the child under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989. Under this Act, a parent can make an application for a lump sum, and settlement or transfer of property order, in addition to (limited) claims for child maintenance and a carer’s allowance.
What does the future hold for cohabitants?
A growing number of legal professionals and politicians are of the view that the laws on cohabitation need to be reformed in line with the changes to society. It is hoped that the impact of COVID-19, might accelerate the process and finally the outdated laws will be overhauled.
No one enters a relationship thinking it will break down but until the laws on cohabitation are updated, any couples living together should take steps to protect themselves.. Speak to Elizabeth today on 01225 750 000 or email Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Source: Office For National Statistics, Labour Force Survey
What our clients say
Many thanks, I wish all lawyers were as good as you.Litigation Client
It is easy to feel intimidated, initially, by such a large and impressive business as yours, but my recollection is that every single person I spoke with from day one has been friendly, approachable and respectful. What a difference that has made.Family Client
I just wanted to say a big thank you for your help over the past twelve months. It’s been a very difficult time and a huge relief to be able to finally put this behind me & start a fresh.Family Client
You were recommended to me by a friend. From the first interaction with you, I was put at ease. You seemed to have an intuitive sense of my wishes with regard to the case. The correspondence was always prompt and clear. I am so glad I found you!Family Client
The service we received was fantastic. You kept us informed throughout and provided advice when needed, which was particularly helpful. Emily has even recommended you to a colleague of hers.Matt & Emily
You have a broad portfolio of legal expertise which is all available under one roof, and we felt confident in your ability to represent our interests in a very ‘easy to use’, professional, pro-active and flexible manner. Framptons Transport Services have no hesitation in recommending you.Paul Frampton Framptons Transport Services
You really did make a very big difference to each of us and helped with the process in a professional but understanding/caring way.Family Client
Thank you for all your help with the conveyancing. It was a very stress free process and we are very grateful for your time and effort in helping us purchase our new family home.Annie & Julian
Peter, Guy and I would like to say how grateful we are for all you have done with our selling and buying. We will recommend you to anyone we hear is buying or selling a house as we know no stone will be left unturned.Residential Client
Many thanks for your invitation to drinks and canapés at Sherborne Castle. It was a lovely evening and good to meet members of staff from your various branches and in future to be able to put a face to a name. Thank you againMr & Mrs Berryman
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the Mogers Drewett drinks party on Wednesday evening . You attracted a good mix of professionals and loyal clients proving that the amalgamation will receive strong support from the indigenous regional population. Thank you for inviting us and I will look forward to more business with your firmMark
I found your advice very informative and extremely helpful. You are the first solicitor I have spoken with who really understood my situation from all angles re property in joint and sole names and the company position. Thank youFamily Client
The last ten months, as for anyone who has been through a bereavement, has not been easy and has been an eye opener as to how much we collect, and the paperwork we keep, just in case we should need it, sometimes when the account or case is closed.But, I think I can speak for both of us, when I say it was so much easier having both Gemma & Matt along giving help, advice and support when it was most needed.We did appreciate the very quick response you gave with emails and letters etc, and the professional and prompt manner in which you dealt with our business.We will of course, not hesitate to recommend Mogers Drewett to others.Private Client
It has been a difficult 18 months, with my father falling ill and subsequent death in December. Selling my parent’s home and dealing with my father’s estate was not easy and at times very emotive. You have made it easy and straightforward and I really appreciate all you have done. I shall certainly recommend your firm to friends in SomersetMiss S L Jones, Winchester, Hampshire
I'd would like to take this opportunity to thank you Matt for his work during our house purchase. We were somewhat in the dark as to how a lot of this worked and you did a really great job of keeping us up to speed! We can't wait to finally get the keys and be in on Monday. Certainly if any of our friends require similar conveyance services in the future we'll be sure to recommend you and Mogers Drewett.Residential Property Client
Thank you very much for you and your team's excellent work and professionalism, in handling and progressing the sale, which has all gone very smoothly. It is much appreciated and I am very pleased that I have received really excellent service from Mogers Drewett from Margaret, Megan and also previously from Zena and Corinna in the other matters of Power of Attorney and Deputyship. This is obviously why my parents used your services when they were able to deal with their own affairs.Mr & Mrs Bryne
I would like to thank you for your assistance during my recent house purchase. Margaret made the whole transaction easy to follow and stress free, I will be singing your praises to my friends and colleagues.Mr Clive Handford
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your help and advice yesterday. I know it's your profession but I feel pretty confident having you on my team .John Kennedy Oyster Property Limited
Now I am safely inside the new house I would like to thank you for your exemplary handling of the conveyancing for the purchase of Pinkwood. I will have no hesitation in recommending you wholeheartedly to anyone looking for such a service in future. As discussed a few weeks ago, I will likely be in touch in the next few months when my partner looks to buy into the house so that we can get her name on the deeds.Residential Client
Just a note of thanks - we really appreciated your calm clear head and tremendous patience and forbearance. We are sorry it has been unnecessarily fraught at time, but we have admired your persistence and quick thinking. You have shown yourself to be very good at what you do, and we see it and are very grateful for it.Agriculture Client
I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for all your help with our move. You were absolutely fantastic at dealing with all the many, many problems and delays!Residential Client
Just a brief, belated, note to say thank you for all your help in sorting out the administration of my late Mother's estate. It is a great relief to know this matter is now settled and without your efficient handling of the matter I'm sure would have taken many months more.Private Client
On behalf of my family I would like to thank you for the tremendous work you did in securing Probate so rapidly. It was certainly a close run thing as we exchanged yesterday and today was the final day before the buyer would have had to inform his mortgage providers that there may be a delay so a huge sigh of relief by all.Private Client
Thank you so much for all your work regarding Vale View, it is greatly appreciated. It has not been the best of years and you have really helped make it so much easier than it could have been and for that I am very grateful.Residential Client
I would like to thank you for all your hard work sensitivity and support over the past months. Thank you for the chats, tea and at times laughter in what has been an emotional period - much appreciated.Private Client
Thank you so much for your work on getting our house done.Your knowledge, professionalism, sanity and humour have been greatly appreciated in some pretty stressful and trying conditionsTHANK YOU!Residential Client
My thanks to pam and Rory for your prompt and efficient handling of my mother's estate.Private Client
Thank you so much for the extremely prompt transfer! First Direct were impressed as well!Private Client
May I take the opportunity to thank you for your services, which were superb, I thought your response times were brilliant and I would take pleasure in recommending you and your Firm to anyone. Best wishesResidential Client
If you want a specialist solicitor in this area, that's Jonathan. He's a very decent chap and a long-standing agriculture specialist. He's very good.Agricultural Client
Sean has great breadth of knowledge.Employment Client
Rebecca Silcock is one of the most meticulous and detailed family lawyers that I ever deal with.Family Client
Maeve is absolutely fantastic - she's grounded and you can trust your case is in good hands, she always knows the facts.Dispute Resolution Client
David has very good interpersonal skills and puts lay clients at ease.Private Client
Thank you for the extra mile that you and your colleagues went and the patience shown. I know there was the odd bump in the road but it has all ended well and we all hugely appreciate the work you put in to get this over the line.Residential Client
Victoria was absolutely fantastic! From day one she made every effort to understand my needs and strived to achieve the best possible outcome for me and my son. She listened and gave excellent advice in any matter; nothing was too small or too much for her.Family
Her quick responses and communication via email were reassuring and allowed me to focus on my divorce in my own time without it interfering with my job. I hope I never have to recommend a solicitor for divorce to anyone, but if I did I wouldn't hesitate in putting Victoria's name forward.Family
I just wanted to drop a note to say how impressed we are with Kate Norris, and everything Kate is doing for my father’s elderly cousin. Her affairs are particularly complicated as - until she was widowed three years ago - she lived much of her life in America. There is the further complication that she is currently in Bridgemead after a fall last summer, though hoping to be home soon. Through all this Kate has been such a support - wading through the complicated transatlantic paper work, ironing out all the snags, rationalising her affairs, being a regular visitor, and all in all being a great comfort to her. Bravo Mogers! Kate is a true gem.Private Client
Thank you for all your hard work Emma. Your help made the whole Will procedure quite effortless even in this unusual situation of lockdown.Private Client
With the pandemic just starting out, we as a business had a very difficult situation to manage, with regards to the safety of our staff and clients alike and also a financial decision to make as our business was not able to operate on its normal platform. A trusted colleague suggested we contact Mogers Drewett to ensure that any decision we made would be legally correct. We were met with empathy for the situation that we were in and also offered great advise with what was a rapidly changing situation for people and businesses alike, and with no real precedence to follow. We had great advice from Sean and Lucy and all dealt with very efficiently by Annie. Communication was great throughout and ultimately led us to be able to make the correct decision for our needs and also backed up with all the legal jargon we just couldn’t have possibly known. I would not hesitate to recommend Mogers to anyone I come into contact with in the future and will undoubtedly do business with them again.Gary Day GEM Solutions
I asked you at the beginning for three things, to keep my house, so that I could keep a home for my family, to get the best deal and to ensure that when it’s done there would be no way of coming back to get any more from me. You delivered on all three counts. A bottle of champagne will be opened this evening & a toast to you will be made.Family Client
Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU, for all you have done for me Rebecca, your council & calm demeanour have been my rock though out what was a very traumatic divorce. Social distancing aside if you were standing in front of me I would give you a hug!Family Client
Thank you so much for putting up with us and for getting the job done in exceptionally testing circumstances. I can’t thank you enough for the human face you put on whilst dealing with us and the sense of humour and… tolerance! We are a fairly eclectic mix in our family and I think you managed brilliantly to say the least!When this ridiculousness has ebbed away into an unpleasant memory I shall look forward to saying “thank you" in person, shaking your hand and perhaps buying you a drink.Private Client
I would like to personally thank you, as losing my second Mother seven months after my Mother it was a very difficult time for me personally. The very personable way in which you have approached everything has made the whole process much easier to deal with. Thank you EmmaPrivate Client
Just wanted to email to thank you both in helping our move go as smoothly as possible. You have been so helpful and we wouldn't hesitate in using Mogers Drewett again and recommending to family and friends.Residential Client
I just wanted to thank you Emma for your kind and compassionate way you have dealt with everything. It was a difficult time for me and I feel you made the whole process of the Estate that much more bearable ....so Thank You.Private Client
Your communication through lockdown was very impressive which they were grateful for - Thank youBath Estate Agent
We would like to thank you for your professional handling of the completion sale of our house yesterday. Your communications with us were very easy to understand and we have been very happy with the efficient service that we received.Residential Client
Difficult transacting in a pandemic, you have always been calm, level headed and responsive. A pleasure to deal with. Thank youResidential Client
In my experience it’s relatively rare to find a solicitor who is not only concerned with making sure they don’t run up unnecessary costs for their client, but is also concerned with the impact of the proceedings on the family once the legal teams have all long departed. What particularly impressed me is that while that was your concern, you were not simply seeking to avoid litigation, and you put a tremendous amount of time and effort into taking detailed attendance notes and ensured the client fully understood their options.A barrister
Following on from our emails and a visit to your office, I just wanted to thank Victoria Lewis for her assistance. If we have anything else in the future which you can help us with, I will not hesitate to contact you. Thank youCorporate Commercial Client
We always felt that Emma was fighting our corner, especially when Help to Buy were being rather difficult to deal with and missed our original completion date. Even though it was Help To Buy’s mess up Emma tried everything possible to get the job done.Residential Client
Finally Helen and I would like to thank you for your efforts in putting our long overdue affairs in order. You have made it very easy for us and we really appreciate not only your professionalism but also human touch.Private Client
I'd like to thank you at this point for all you did at what was a difficult and stressful time for us. T took a great liking to you and enjoyed your time together. After your last visit to him he said contentedly "Kat knows all about our family now, she really understands us." I very much appreciated the clear way you explained things to him without ever talking down to him or removing his dignity. Having reached the age of 98 this was so important.Private Client
Thank you so much for all the work you have done on the purchase of my new house in Corsham. I am really delighted and excited with it and am seriously considering moving in myself in early Spring and putting my cottage on the market. All seems to have gone thru very quickly and efficiently under very difficult circumstances.Residential Client
We are both very happy with the attention to detail, level of service and responsiveness you have provided for the purchase of our house. I will definitely recommend Mogers Drewett to friends in the future.Residential Client
Your professional approach, attention to detail and friendly manner has been very much appreciated. You have at all times kept us fully informed and we are aware that the whole process has not been easy. It has been a pleasure to have dealt with you and would have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone who needed your legal services.We could not have wished for anyone better than you to conduct our affairs in this matter and are so very grateful to you for all you have done.Residential Client
I just want to let you know that Kat has been brilliant on this file, I think the chain would have collapsed it is wasn’t for her perseverance chasing the Probate Registry!Private Client
I would like to say thank you so much for your support with my Uncle I do not know what I would be doing without you, you truly are my lifeline and it means so much.Later Life Support Team
Kat was very helpful with every question I had, and expertly guided me through the process of completing my Powers of Attorney. She also was very patient when due to my busy schedule, combined with lockdown, it took much longer to complete this than we had hoped.Private Client
It has been - and continues to be - a tricky year for many people but knowing that you are on the case and going to bat for our family in all matters legal, makes for a great weight off our minds. Thank you GemmaPrivate Client
I would like to place on record my grateful thanks to you for all your hard work in the successful completion our Wills and Power of Attorney (I know the court has to complete), but all the hard work has been completed. It has as always been a pleasure to speak and meet with you and we are most grateful for your wise counsel and advice. We would never consider going to anyone else for our legal requirements.Private Client
I am so appreciative of the way you have helped us all through the process, it was good to know that you were always on the end of the phone so I could talk things through with you.Private Client
I will always be grateful for the way you helped and always went the extra mile for her. And you were a very good friend to mum.Later Life Support Team
A company sale may be the most critical legal transaction an owner may do in their lifetime and yet one that will be unfamiliar to those who have not done it before, with many potential pitfalls. Mogers Drewett guided us through ours very well, providing great advice and being there when we needed it. We are indebted to Mogers Drewett for the work done, the friendly, but professional approach and would gladly recommend them to anyone in the same situation.Corporate Commercial Client
Thank you so much for your efficient, diligent and hard work when dealing with my step mothers affairs. J said that you were a pleasure to work with.Private Client
We would like to thank you and your colleagues for your excellent service which cannot have been easy under the difficult circumstances in which we are all working. Despite the pressure the service has always been friendly and helpful. Thank you once again and until the next timeResidential Property Client
In a world of complaints about nearly every residential property team from anyone who has bought or sold, it was a breath of fresh air to deal with Alison and her team. So much so that my family has immediately instructed MD on another transaction. The package of documents we received was also the most comprehensive I have ever seen and gave us the reassurance we needed when buying a property. If you want to remove a significant source of stress from your buying or selling, look no further.Residential Property Client
Alison was brilliant. I boast about her to everyone else who moaned about theirs when buying or selling a property!Residential Property Client
I just wanted to take a quick moment to write to say how impressed and pleased we were with Mogers Drewett during our purchase. This was not an easy purchase, and the mortgage company's solicitor were really unhelpful and required a lot of extra attention and hand-holding to get the whole thing over the line, but Mogers Drewett really went over and above in every duty, I couldn’t fault them. They were also really engaging and friendly to boot! Thank you and all the team so much for all of your help, it is much appreciated.Residential Property Client
Mogers Drewett managed our affairs with total professionalism and with the utmost efficiency while maintaining at all times a personal and friendly approach.Private Client
We were totally satisfied and very grateful to Emma for her total professionalism and efficiency. We very much consider Emma and Mogers Drewett our ‘family solicitors’ and will be back in touch as needs arise. Thank youPrivate Client
Thank you very much for all your work - and advice - in completing our sale so efficiently and quickly. It all happened much quicker than I was expecting!Residential Property Client
It has been a great service. Many thanks to all of you at Mogers.Residential Property Client
I just wanted to pass on our sincere gratitude to you for helping us through the house move. There were a few ‘tense’ moments from the other solicitors to say the least, but you handled them all with great composure and support.Residential Property Client
Amazingly impressed with the service and once again, our many thanks.Residential Property Client
Thank you, I really do appreciate all of this hard work and we have really benefited from all of your expertise and experience in this area.HR Client
I just wanted to thank you for all of the great work you have done in helping us get our appraisal system up and running in PeopleHR. It does feel like we now have a very robust, suitably simple, properly focused and effective appraisal process for the team. As you know, we have never managed to achieve that in the past.HR Client
It is difficult to say just how much we appreciate your wonderful work on our behalf: your wisdom, hard work and expertise enabled us to survive the trials and tribulations that faced us on our tortuous journey from Bath to Bristol. Your handling of the withdrawal of our original vendors was particularly impressive, and saved us serious money, for which relief much thanks AlisonResidential Property Client
We appreciate that the market madness linked with the stamp duty holiday was an added pressure, so the fact that we were able to complete as soon as we did is a tribute to your outstanding effectiveness. Several of your emails were done out-of-hours, which was just one indication of your commitment to our cause, and meeting you was a real pleasure. Heartfelt thanks from us both.Residential Client
Thanks again to you and Gina for your excellence all the way through, when you experience such problematic sales/purchases it does very much make me appreciate and value working with efficient professionals and not being the ones holding everybody up!Residential Client
I just wanted to put on record my absolute thanks to you for all the help, advice, kindness and care (…….and patience!) you have shown me throughout our time together.You will know that at times my emotion has gotten the better of me (!!), but knowing you were basically on the end of the phone with reassurance, meant so much.This last 6 weeks or so has certainly frayed the nerves somewhat, but as you know, we got there in the end. I said to Tom that basically over 40 years of running my Company I have been answerable to very few, and so all the due diligence, jumping through hoops explaining myself etc certainly tested me! The fact that you, Tom, Justin and the team were there was an enormous comfort.Commercial Client
On behalf of my sister, many thanks to you for your services over the past year. I’m sure Mum (and Dad) would be pleased with the final outcome too, as their wishes have been achieved.Private Client
Kate you deserve a certificate of appreciation for all the help/advice/going above and beyond your role of duty……..words are never enough for what you are doing for my family and I honestly cannot thank you enough for everything you do and I appreciate everything you are doingLater Life Support Client
It has been delightful dealing with you Emma as well - I've really been impressed with how you and Amelia are able to combine being both efficient AND caring.Private Client
Aside from my feedback through the form, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and guidance in all aspects of Dad's estate, both before and after he passed away and not forgetting the house sale, which was not directly anything to do with you! These situations are never easy but your diligence, knowledge and experience, combined with your respect and empathy has been second to none. Thank you.Private Client
David. You are astonishing! Bless you for actioning these important changes and rewriting the Will in record time. You have enabled me to have peace of mind. I’m thrilled and honoured with the arrangements we’ve made. Thank youPrivate Client
We consider ourselves very fortunate that you were the one dealing with dad’s affairs. Given the circumstances we feel it went very smoothly, aided by your prompt responses, kindness and helpfulness. Thank youPrivate Client
Kate it has been a pleasure working with you over the years. Thank you for all your support with a fair slew of tricky cases! You are an exemplar of paralegal advocacy.”Professional Contact
I just want to say a huge thank you for getting both sale and purchase of the properties across the line in time for the 30th. We are thrilled and the saving for me is hugeResidential Property client
I know it was stressful at times and you’ve all been under the cosh. But I cannot thank you enough for pushing us through – it is more than appreciated and you’ve all been brilliant.Residential Property client
We have worked with Emma previously and as ever, she has given world class service. Quick, accurate and with high communication makes Emma and team absolutely fantastic. They will always be our go to!Private Client
Thank you for Representing me. It has been very much appreciated. You are the best of the best. If I was to describe David Hill and his work in one word it would be AMAZING. You are AMAZING Thank You for all that you have done for me.Private Client
David. You are astonishing! Bless you for actioning these important changes and rewriting the Will in record time.Private Client
I just wanted to say many thanks for your help with the purchase of our new house. We're in and now starts the job of gradual unboxing! Your help getting us here Maria is much appreciated.Residential Client
You are amazing in every way . My definition of Amazing; Someone who selflessly goes above and beyond to help someone out. You are just that. AMAZINGPrivate Client
I wish there were more people out there like you guys. One in a million you are.Private Client
I was really impressed with your quick response time and your positivity - thank you. It gave me reassurance almost instantly that Mogers Drewett will be there for us, even as a small business.Commercial Client