Common Law Marriage & Living Together Agreements

In the words of Lord Justice Rimer:

‘Overall, this is an unusual case in which a joint owner of property had deliberately come off the title deeds, failed in his bid to prove and express agreement that he was to retain his beneficial interets and admitted that he had later rejected the idea of going back on to the deeds because he did not want to put the property at risk of claims by others’, who were chasing him for his debts. As a consequence of Mr Wade’s conduct, the Court of Appeal has ruled that he is entitled to no share of a house purchased when the couple first started living together in 1982 and which they shared until 2005 when the split-up. The problem here was that for various reasons Mr Wade has chosen to have his name removed from the deeds of ownership of the house. When the relationship came to an end, Mr Wade applied to court claiming that he was entitled to a 50% share of the property and, also a company they ran together. The court of appeal refused Mr Wade’s application.

This is a common situation and again underlines the dangers faced by cohabiting couples in the absence of a properly drawn up agreement setting out the nature of their financial arrangements together. Had Mr Wade and Ms Bayliss set out the terms of their financial dealings in a ‘living together agreement‘, Mr Wade would not have walked out of court with nothing. A living together agreement is an inexpensive document which can protect parties when a living together relationship comes to an end. Sadly, Mr Wade, like so many other people, had assumed that he was protected by the law due to his ‘common law marriage‘ or ‘common law relationship‘. What Mr Wade did not realise at the time is that although the concept of ‘common law‘ relationships exists very plainly in the English language, it has absolutely no basis whatsoever in the English law and simply does not exist!

If you are involved in a ‘living together relationship’ or a ‘common law relationship’, it would be naïve to simply assume that the law will protect your rights. The reality is far from that as Mr Wade has just discovered much to his disappointment. However you can protect yourself with a ‘living together agreement’ which should cost no more than a few hundred pounds and will help to protect tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds of your assets. Call us on 020 8401 7352 for a free 30 minute telephone consultation to discuss your requirements for a ‘living together agreement‘ or indeed any other aspect of cohabitation, marriage, divorce or childrens law.

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