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| 1 minute read

The myth of the common law spouse

The Women & Equalities Committee is urging the government to act to introduce 15 year old recommendations aimed at protecting certain cohabitants when their unmarried relationships breakdown.  This item has been in the 'pending' pile for years and whilst no action has been taken, many have found out the hard way that they have few, or no rights when long standing relationships have broken down. More often than not, those people are women.

Some feel it is unfair to convey rights where parties make a deliberate choice to remain unmarried. So often though that is not the whole truth. Parties who wish to marry can't always choose to and so can't make that deliberate choice, or even an informed choice.   Better education of the public that living together doesn't automatically convey rights is obviously to be encouraged but within what forum should that occur? How and to whom should that broad message be disseminated to get the warning out there?

A change in the law to provide some limited protection may be the best way of educating the public at large about the differences between cohabiting and marriage, whilst encouraging couples to give proper and timely thought to an issue that is so often ignored until it is too late.

Government urged to end 'legal limbo' for unmarried couples

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family law

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