What is common law marriage?

Common law marriage does not exist. There is a common misconception that if a couple have lived together for long enough, they are effectively treated as married in the eyes of the law, and automatically gain rights equal to a marriage or civil partnership. This is false.

If a couple cohabits rather than gets married or enter into a civil partnership, they DO NOT receive the same level of protection.  In general terms the current law treats an unmarried couple as two unrelated individuals. Neither party will be entitled to any financial support or a share in the other’s assets if the relationship ends.

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