Do I Have a Common Law Husband/Wife?

In short, no, you are either legally married or you’re not.

The urban myth of the common law husband/wife is one of the most incredible, and a further reason not be believe anything you’re told about separation or divorce by anyone other than a specialist solicitor.

If you are legally married, or civil partners, and separate from your spouse then any financial settlement between you is governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 – and case law interpreting it – and the procedure to follow to dissolve the marriage or civil partnership is well known.

If you are not legally married neither of you will have an obligation to financially maintain the other, and financial issues are only likely to arise if either of you owns a property in which you lived as a family or which your partner has contributed to. There may also be financial considerations to deal with if you are unmarried and have children together.

The law of trusts which applies to interests in property, especially when the land registry title is only in one partner’s name, is complex and fact specific. This leads to great uncertainty about who owns what.

It is therefore vital to get legal advice from a specialist family law solicitor as early as you can when separating.

Please contact us should you have any questions about your own circumstances.