Divorce myth number 10 – That a common law marriage exists.

31st July 2013

Susan Davies of Ansons LLP Solicitors family law team in Lichfield, Staffordshire, explains: “This is not correct”.

If you live together as a couple without getting married, then you do not gain any automatic rights with regard to property or other finances – no matter how long you have been living together.

On separation, cohabiting couples may have to seek a declaration under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 to determine what their share of the property is, and whether the property can be sold. The court will take onto account each person’s contributions to the purchase, their intentions, at the time that the property was purchased or since.

If the cohabiting couple have children, an application can be made under the Children Act 1989 for the house to be sold only when the children have grown up or for a lump sum to buy an alternative property to live in with the children. Often this lump sum has to be given back when the children are adult.