Thursday, 31 January 2008

Time for a change?

Couples who live together but are not married should beware because the law does not recognise a “common law” marriage, according to Nadia Davis, who leads our Family Team.

But Nadia said attitudes towards marriage across the UK were constantly changing, and with legislation under review, maybe it was time for the law to change.

“Currently, just over half the UK population still thinks that common law marriage exists in law. In fact, according to this year's British Social Attitudes survey which was published just last week, 51% of those surveyed believed that cohabiting couples were protected by 'common law marriage', when this is just not the case.”

In the survey, people were asked specifically how they felt about cohabiting couples and the legal implications they faced.

“Altogether, 89% said that a cohabiting partner should be entitled to financial provision on separation if the relationship had been a long-term one, included children and had involved prioritising one partner's career over another. And 38% thought that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if the relationship only lasted two years and involved no children.

“These figures clearly show that people do not feel there is a need
to prolong the deep legal distinctions that are currently made between married and unmarried cohabiting families. With the current legislation under review by The Law Commission, maybe now is the time to redraw the rules when it comes to unmarried couples,” said Nadia.