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The ‘why bother?’ attitude to cohabitation laws

The common law marriage myth stubbornly lives on, writes Marilyn Stowe, and it doesn't show any sign of abating

8 March 2016

Every so often a story will hit the headlines that throws an unforgiving spotlight on the blurrier corners of the law. This month it was the case of Joy Williams. She was the focus of several news stories following the death of her partner, Norman. They had lived together for 18 years but were not married. He had in fact never divorced his wife, Maureen.

What's more, at the time of his unfortunate death from a heart attack, the former dentist had not amended his will to reflect his new life with Joy. The couple shared a home but did so as tenants in common and so one could not inherit from the other. Naturally this made his estranged wife his legal heir and she intended to sell her share of the home.

Unable to buy out Maureen Martin and facing homelessness, Joy went to court. Luckily for her, the judge was persuaded that she had a case. It was 'fair and reasonable' that she received...

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