Common Law Husband and Wife does it exist?


Common Law Husband and Wife does it exist?

It is a phrase used to refer to a couple living together who are not married or in a civil partnership. However, it does not mean that in law, just by cohabiting with someone


you are able to make a financial claim against your partner if the relationship ends.

I continue to see people who presume that as they have lived together with their partner they are entitled to financial claims, just like a married couple, at the end of relationship, and people still believe that financial obligations flow from simply having lived with someone.

A married person who divorces has the ability to make financial claims due to being married, whereas in England and Wales the same does not apply to someone who has simply lived with their partner.

Whether someone who has cohabited with their partner has a financial claim will depend on looking at whether they have a financial claim due to some other reason, such as under property law, trust law, contract law, children law and child support law. Whereas if you are married, the potential to pursue financial claims stems from the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

Property law and trust law

If you jointly own a property together then you will each have a claim against the property under property law, if one of you solely owned the property then the law is complex and advice will need to be taken to establish whether or not the person who is not named on the deeds to the property has an interest in the property.

Maintenance and child maintenance

A person who is married can potentially ask their husband/wife for spousal maintenance at the end of the marriage, if a cohabiting couple separates the same does not apply. If the cohabiting couple have children then a claim could be made for child maintenance and depending on the circumstances further financial claims could be made to meet the children’s financial needs, the law is however complex and advice will need to be taken.

If you wish to seek further advice please contact Genette Gale ourFamily Solicitor at Rutters on 01747 852377.