16 Jul

What are the Myths of Common Law Spouse?


In earlier days two people could stay together only if they were married. However, today this is not the case. We see bachelors living together, sharing a room, even have live-in relationships, and sometimes children too. All this when they are not married. Well, let’s put something straight here. There is nothing called a common law spouse in the law of England as this is just a myth. 

So, now the question arises, can your partner inherit your property after death? What benefits does he/she can claim? The law of England doesn’t offer any protection to cohabiting couples. Those who live together do not have any rights such as the rights of a married couple. Even you can consult with the best Solicitor in maidstone for taking more information. Then why does this live-in relationship exists at all. Nowadays, there are still cohabiting couples living together, but the reason for doing so is no longer bound to geographical problems. Because of this practice has been disallowed by law in many places.

A case that came up in 2012 in England, that of Joy Williams and Norman Martin highlights this fact. Ms. Williams and Mr. Martin lived together for 18 years without Mr. Martin divorcing his wife. When he died in 2012, all his share with Ms. Joy Williams went to Ms. Martin. When Ms. Williams put up a legal battle, she won her share but this was just the first case of its kind. She said that the best Solicitors near me guided in throughout the process. So, if you are confused then probate solicitors Kent can clear your all doubts related to this.

A survey conducted found that two-thirds of the youth who were staying together in such a live-in relationship believed that the myth of common spouse exists. It is for this reason that the number of such youth has doubled from 1.5 million in 1996 to 3.3 million 2017. 

Live-in vs Marriage

There are many differences between the rights of a couple who prefer a live-in to that of a marriage. They are:

  • If one of the partners dies in a live-in relationship, the other cannot get his/her share unless the property is held jointly. In the case of a marriage, the whole property is inherited by the partner irrespective of who owns it.
  • An unmarried partner who lives at home, taking care of children has no rights over any kind of property, or pension. 
  • Once a partner who in a live-in relation dies, the other partner cannot access the bank accounts. In a marriage, the whole amount can be withdrawn by the other partner.
  • Unmarried couples do not need to go to a court of law for separation whereas married couples need to.
  • While married couples are legally obliged to support each other, unmarried couples are not required to have any such obligation.
  • If you are having a live-in relationship with a tenant, you have to leave if the tenant tells you so. In a marriage, you have every right to live in your partners house.

These tasks will protect you as well as your partner from any unusual situation in the future.

So what needs to be done? One or both of the partners could make their will otherwise the other partner gets nothing once one of them dies. Also, ensure that you also have a list of wishes prepared stating why you have included somebody as beneficiaries. This will not lead to any legal suites. You could also mention the name(s) of the nominee(s) to receive your pension, insurance, and death-in-service benefits. A deed specifying the distribution of your property ,in case  the partners refuse to live together in future, must be present. Preparing such deeds and wills will be beneficial to both, you and your partner, in any unforetold happening in the future.

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