For first-time buyers, starting out together in a new home, it is an exciting time and a big milestone on the relationship's journey which may or may not lead to marriage later down the line.
However, 46% of people* believe that they will acquire legal rights within a cohabiting relationship because of what is referred to as 'common law marriage'. This myth is founded upon the belief that if you are essentially living 'as man and wife' you assume the same legal rights as married couples.
Unfortunately, the tough reality is, there is no such thing as 'common law marriage' and cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples.
This harsh reality often comes to be realised at the time of relationship breakdown or on the death of one of the couple. Both are times which are stressful enough, without worrying about your financial security. At VWV, a common problem we see is that one of the couple dies without a Will naming their partner. This means they are not automatically entitled to their assets or to stay in the shared home (unless the assets or home were jointly owned).
Similarly, a cohabiting father (not named on the child's birth certificate) would not have the same automatic parental responsibility rights as a father married to their child's mother.
Recognising that having a frank discussion now could save you both a lot of distress and cost further down the line is worthwhile, and our expert lawyers are able to guide you through this sensitively and practically.
* in England and Wales