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Common law marriage is the 
stuff of fairy tales

Kate Johnson goes over the cold hard facts that endanger cohabiting couples' assets

4 February 2016

Last year’s statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that over three million couples in the UK are unmarried and cohabiting, which accounts for 17 per cent of families in the UK.

Cohabiting families are the fastest-growing family type in the UK. Even though there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’ in UK law, over half of respondents to the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2008 thought that unmarried couples living together for some time probably or definitely had a common law marriage, giving them the same legal rights as married couples.

This could not be further from the truth.

Not only is there no such thing as a common law marriage in UK law, couples living together do not benefit from the many protections and tax exemptions afforded to married couples and those in civil partnerships, many think unfairly.

Two of the most noticeable, and potentially devastating, discrepancies occur on death. Mar...

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